The Truth About Suicide and Guns
This Report Was Updated in 2021.
America’s deadliest shootings are those we rarely discuss: Over half of all gun deaths are suicides. On average, 64 people die of gun suicide each day in America — more than firearm murders and unintentional shootings combined. Firearms are by far the most lethal method of suicide. Amid the backdrop of COVID-19 and record-breaking gun sales, unsecured firearms in gun-owning households risk an increase in suicide.
This report analyzes the relationship between firearms and suicide to provide tangible solutions for policymakers, community organizers, and more to prevent gun suicide and save lives by focusing on:
- Communities uniquely impacted by firearm suicide, including youth and teens, men, Alaskan Native, American Indian, and Black youth, military-connected and LGBTQ+ communities, and more
- Policy solutions, including extreme risk laws, waiting periods, and child access prevention laws
- Public health solutions, including lethal means safety and awareness of safe storage options, like: trigger locks, lock boxes, gun vaults, safes, off-site storage, and “asking to save lives"
Key Facts About Guns and Suicide
There were 1.4 million suicide attempts in 2019, making suicide one of the most pressing public health crises in America.
The compounding of COVID and non-COVID stressors alongside record-breaking gun sales poses a heightened risk of gun suicide for gun-owning households where firearms are not securely stored.
Firearms account for just 5% of American suicide attempts, but more than half of all suicide deaths.
Since 2006, the firearm suicide rate for minors identified as boys and young men has increased by approximately 60%. Similarly, minors identified as girls and young women are now more than twice as likely to die by suicide than they were 15 years ago.
There is an average of 17.2 veteran suicide deaths per day, 12 of which include a firearm.
Of those who survive and receive care post-suicide attempt, 70% will live without attempting again.
These facts are sobering, but by strengthening existing mechanisms like waiting periods and extreme risk laws, focusing on safe storage practices, and normalizing conversations about gun safety, a countless number of firearm suicide attempts can be avoided — and countless lives can be saved.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org to reach the free and confidential 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.