“… it’s not that gun owners are more suicidal”

June 11, 2014

“It’s that they’re more likely to die in the event that they become suicidal, because they are using a gun.”

So is the discovery of the Harvard School of Public Health in their recent report: “Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll

The report starts with some statistics: “In 2010 in the U.S., 19,392 people committed suicide with guns, compared with 11,078 who were killed by others.”

It continues: “Though guns are not the most common method by which people attempt suicide, they are the most lethal. About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm end in death. (Drug overdose, the most widely used method in suicide attempts, is fatal in less than 3 percent of cases.)”

Thus, it’s the irreversible result of attempted suicide by gun–attempts usually made, the report says, quickly and without much thought put into it.

It also discusses how the availability of means to suicide, such as highly toxic pesticides, impacts suicide rate:

When widely used lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, as do suicide rates overall. In Sri Lanka, for example, where pesticides are the leading suicide method, the suicide rate fell by half between 1995 and 2005, after the most highly human-toxic pesticides were restricted.

Similarly, in the United Kingdom before the 1950s, domestic gas derived from coal contained 10 to 20 percent carbon monoxide, and poisoning by gas inhalation was the leading means of suicide. A source of natural gas virtually free of carbon monoxide was introduced in 1958; over time, as carbon monoxide in gas decreased, so did the number of suicides overall—driven by a drop in carbon monoxide suicides, even as other methods increased somewhat.

Changing the means by which people try to kill themselves doesn’t necessarily ease the suicidal impulse or even the rate of attempts. But it does save lives by reducing the deadliness of those attempts.

The report gets into race and suicide. It also suggests a potential solution, by having gun shop owners team up with mental health practitioners.


  • Chuck Zito

    This article is a weak attempt to bash guns and gun owners. It does nothing but show that your opinion has no merit when you are this desperate to shove it down throats and get it to the sheep. More trash from mt.

  • Mark

    Suicide is illegal. Yet, again, people commit the crime. You cannot stop a person who is hell bent on committing the crime.

    In 90% of suicides, in which some method other than firearm is utilized, and where the criminal fails in his attempt, he is left to be mentally or physically damaged thereby leaving someone else to deal with the aftermath.

    I believe the law should be that, if you attempt suicide and don’t use a firearm, you face 20 years hard time.

  • NameNotGiven

    Firstly the Harvard study does not look at demographically equal jurisdiction which vary only by gun ownership. l

    Demographic equal jurisdiction that vary only by gun ownership show EQUAL overall suicide rates.

    Secondly suicide researchers (and the Harvard study author have no other peer reviewed work on actual suicide issues) knwo that almost all of the suicides by drug overdose, and opiate and opioid drug oversdose deaths are up 400% in the past 25 years, are severely under-counted.

    Just go to NIH and search “suicide under-count”. The estimates run up to 25,000 suicides by drug overdose not counted by CDC due to probative standards used by MEs and coroners (self inflicted gunshot being presumptive suicide, and self inflicted drug overdose being presumptive accident in current standards used in the statistics).

    There are peer reviewed studies indicating up to 20,000 suicides by drug overdose are not counted per year. Oh and where are most drug overdose deaths happening? in the jurisdictions with the least guns