Guns and suicide: Means matter

Spring 2008 ]

More people die using a firearm than all other means combined, including suffocation (e.g., hanging or drowning), poisoning (e.g., drug overdoses), leaping from great heights, and cutting. Most gun users are middle-aged and male.

These bar graphs reveal correlations between gun prevalence and suicides across ages and genders. Comparing populations of roughly the same size in 2002, total suicides soared in “high-gun” states (pop. 116 million)* compared to “low-gun” states (pop. 119 million)** for men, women, and children ages 5 to 19. The proportion of firearm deaths to deaths by all other means was also significantly higher in high-gun vs. low-gun states across these three groups, suggesting that gun availability facilitates death by suicide.


*High-gun states: WY, SD, AK, WV, MT, AR, MS, ID, ND, AL, KY, WI, LA, TN, UT
**Low-gun states: HI, MA, RI, NJ, CT, NY