Firearms and Suicide: the American Experience, 1926-1996
Publication: Death Studies
Topics: Gender Gun Carrying Suicide U.S./National
Keywords: Access to firearms Suicide male and female suicide rates
Bibliographic information +
Using all-ages mortality data from the CDC, the U.S. Bureau of the Census and other data sources spanning 1926 to 1996, the authors show that American male suicide rates are higher than the rates for females. They argue that this difference in male as compared to female rates is not attributable to males’ more frequent use of firearms in suicidal acts, as the suicide rates for males are still higher after accounting for firearms use. According to the authors, the study does not prove that access to firearms is not a partial determinant of suicide rate, but does suggest that using the percentage of suicides from firearms as a measure of access is flawed and an alternative measure of access to firearms, such as the percentage of homicides by firearms, is required. They suggest that while their study does not allow a conclusion that reducing Americans’ access to firearms would sharply reduce the suicide rate, a study that used age-specific mortality data (rather than the all-ages data in their study) might find that restricting access to firearms may reduce the suicide rates for the young but not the old.