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Brady Unveils Updated Report on Gun Suicide: ‘The Truth About Suicide and Guns’

Washington, D.C., September 16, 2021 - In conjunction with National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, today, Brady has released an updated version of its report on gun suicide, ‘The Truth About Suicide and Guns.’ The report builds on and updates previous versions of the report, detailing the crisis of gun suicide in the United States. Suicide by gun accounts for over 60 percent of gun deaths each year, the largest portion of gun deaths. An average of 64 people die from gun suicide every day in our country. During this month designated to bring awareness to preventing suicide, this report not only lays out the scope of this crisis but likewise details steps that policy makers, individuals and loved ones can to help reduce the risk of gun suicide for those in crisis.

Read Brady’s Report Here.

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“Gun suicide is a crisis in our country. We cannot ignore this epidemic that not only comprises the largest portion of gun deaths each year, but clearly affects every community and demographic nationwide. Thankfully, there are solutions. Due to their unique lethality, reducing the ease with which firearms can be accessed by individuals in crisis is a critical part of preventing their use in suicides. Safely storing firearms can provide that needed time and space. While suicide by gun is by far the most lethal means of suicide, there is hope. 90 percent of those who survive a suicide attempt don’t go on to die by suicide, and 70 percent never make another attempt.

This month is dedicated to awareness of preventing suicide. We must continue to call attention to the role of firearms in this crisis and we must continue to work to end it.”

Key Highlights from the Report Include:

  • In 2019, more than 60% of gun deaths — 23,941 fatalities — were due to suicide

  • Firearms account for only 5% of suicide attempts, but over half of all suicide deaths

  • While some of those who die by suicide live with diagnosed mental illnesses, more than 50% of people who die by firearm suicide do not have a diagnosed mental health condition.

  • Suicide and gun suicide disproportioinately affect men, according to latest data 86.6% of those who died by suicide were male

  • A study of 2019 data found that white men age 75 and older are at the highest risk of firearm suicide

  • Active service members and veterans are disproportionately affected by firearm suicide when compared with non-military-connected individuals.

  • An estimated 13 veterans die by suicide by gun every day

Policy Solutions Detailed in the Report:

Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) - Extreme Risk laws, sometimes called red flag laws, are an important tool that families, household members, law enforcement and a limited number of other categories such as school administrators or health officials, can use to prevent firearm injuries and fatalities, particularly from suicide attempts. These laws are specifically crafted to focus on behavioral risk factors that lead to gun violence while avoiding the stigmatization of those living with mental illness who do not exhibit indicators of potential harm.

Waiting Periods - Limiting access to firearms for individuals experiencing periods of crisis is key to reducing firearm suicides. Waiting periods create time between the ideation of suicide and an actual attempt by delaying access to firearms. When waiting periods are in place, there is a critical barrier between the start of a firearm purchase and the transfer of that firearm to the purchaser. This is crucial in “heat of the moment” cases that can lead to homicide, domestic violence, and suicide.

Child Access Prevention Laws - An overwhelming amount of research shows how easy access to guns leads to an increased risk of gun violence among young people. Child access prevention (CAP) laws encourage the secure storage of firearms in homes with children by imposing requirements on adults to keep guns locked or otherwise inaccessible to children except in cases with proper supervision or for specific activities like hunting or sports shooting. CAP laws vary greatly by state, as there is no federal policy currently in effect. Multiple studies have found that CAP laws are associated with decreases in the total rate of youth suicide, as well as the rate of youth suicide by firearm

Minimum Age Requirements - Minimum age laws set a standard for the age at which a person can legally purchase or possess a firearm. While there are currently federal standards in effect, some states have passed versions of these laws that go beyond the federal minimum. The federal Gun Control Act mandates that shotguns, rifles, and their ammunition may only be sold to individuals 18 or older. All other firearms, such as handguns and pistols, and related ammunition, may only be sold to individuals 21 or older. Studies on minimum age laws have found that these laws are associated with a decrease in the suicide rate, and an even more concentrated decrease in the rate of firearm suicides, among young people ages 20 and below. Studies have also found that minimum age laws have a concentrated decrease on suicide rates among male youth, presenting yet another promising strategy for reducing youth suicide by firearm.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the free and confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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