Report Reveals Firearm Suicide Rates Have Decreased Only for States Designated as “National Leaders” in Gun Violence Prevention Policies but Increased 39% for States Designated as “National Failures”
NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund today released a new report highlighting the impact of state gun laws over a 20 year span in preventing firearm suicide. The report, entitled “Two Decades of Suicide Prevention Laws: Lessons from National Leaders on Gun Safety Policy,” is a first-of-its-kind report analyzing suicide rates against state gun laws spanning multiple decades.
The new report shows that from 1999 to 2022, rates of firearm suicide have gone down in those states designated as national leaders in gun violence prevention policies. Meanwhile, firearm suicide rates have gone up 39% among states designated as “national failures” on gun safety policy. Over this same period, there has been little to no difference in rates of suicides by other means in either states with weak or strong gun laws, inherently challenging the notion that individuals intent on attempting suicide will find a way, with or without a gun – a relentless and innacurate myth spread by the gun lobby.
“This new analysis paints a clear picture: suicide is preventable and gun laws work to save lives,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, Senior Director of Research at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Everytown’s new research exposes the harsh reality of increasing firearm suicide rates for states like Wyoming and Idaho that have failed to take meaningful action on gun violence prevention — while states like California, which leads the nation in passing gun safety policies, has seen its firearm suicide rates decrease. Every gun suicide is a preventable tragedy, it’s on our leaders to take action and save lives instead of sitting idly by while more people die.”
“I loved my brother Luc so much, and because he had easy access to a gun, I was left helpless during his darkest moment,” said Adriana Pentz, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in New York and Senior Fellow with the Everytown Survivor Network whose brother, Luc-John, shot and killed himself in 2017. “While I feel his loss with every breath, I honor him by sharing my story and fighting for what this research only proves further. Stronger gun laws in our states can save lives and can prevent more families from feeling the pain I’ve felt every day since his death.”
Key findings from the report include:
- In states with the strongest gun safety laws, gun suicide rates went down 4 percent over the past two decades, while states with the weakest laws saw a 39 percent increase.
- If all U.S. states had experienced the same trend in their gun suicide rate from 1999 to 2022 as the eight states with the strongest gun safety laws, approximately 72,000 fewer people would have died by gun suicide.
- Strong gun laws, including those that restrict access to guns for individuals in crisis, have not resulted in increases in suicide using other methods. This challenges the notion that individuals intent on attempting suicide, when gun access is blocked, will find another way to die.
- In states with the most protective secure storage laws, which hold gun owners accountable for storing their firearms securely, the rate of gun suicide among young people ages 10 to 24 was lower in 2022 than in 1999. In states with no secure storage laws or laws that only apply if gun owners recklessly or intentionally give a child a gun, the rate increased 36 percent.
- Just over half of adult suicides in the U.S. are with a gun. For children and minors ages 10 to 17 years old, that proportion is 43 percent—not nearly as low as one might expect given that minors cannot legally buy or own handguns.
Firearm suicide is a preventable public health crisis. One of the most effective things we can do to help people in crisis is remove their access to firearms. Nearly six out of every 10 gun deaths in the U.S. are gun suicides, and having access to a firearm triples someone’s risk of death by suicide. Most people who attempt suicide do not die—unless they use a gun. Gun suicides in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2022, according to provisional data from the CDC. Nearly six out of every 10 gun deaths are suicides, and having access to a firearm triples someone’s risk of death by suicide.
More information on gun suicide is available here. Additional resources for gun suicide survivors are available here. To speak with an expert, Moms Demand Action volunteer and/or Students Demand Action volunteer, please do not hesitate to reach out. If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can call or text 988, or visit 988lifeline.org/chat to chat with a counselor from the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress anywhere in the US.