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Gun control: Firearm suicides are rising in the US despite declining globally

Previously three a long time, suicides involving weapons have steadily dropped all over the world. Whereas down total within the US since 1990, they started to climb in 2006 – coinciding with elevated entry to firearms


25 Might 2022

Within the US greater than 23,000 folks died by firearm suicide in 2019

Artur Widak/NurPhoto by way of Getty Photographs

Charges of suicide utilizing a firearm have declined globally previously three a long time however stay excessive in high-income nations. Within the US, charges are decrease than they had been in 1990, however they’ve been climbing since 2006.  

Irena Ilic on the College of Belgrade in Serbia and her colleagues analysed information from 204 international locations and located that, between 1990 and 2019, the worldwide charge of firearm suicide decreased by 2 per cent a 12 months on common.  

That matches inside a broader international development of reducing suicide charges, says Paul Nestadt at Johns Hopkins College in Maryland. However the particular drop in gun-related suicides in all probability displays elevated firearm restrictions all over the world. “There have been quite a lot of international locations recognising the position of weapons in suicide, and that’s doubtless contributing to reducing charges,” says Nestadt. 

Increased charges in wealthier international locations

Every year, greater than 700,000 folks worldwide die by suicide, in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO). Greater than three-quarters of suicides happen in low and middle-income international locations. However for these involving a firearm, charges are biggest in high-income international locations, together with the US, France, Canada, Switzerland, Finland and Norway. 

In 2019, there have been practically 53,000 firearm suicides worldwide.  

At present, Greenland has the very best charge of firearm suicides. In accordance with estimates from the Global Burden of Disease study, about 9 folks in Greenland died from this trigger in 2019. That’s 14.11 deaths per 100,000 folks once you embrace each sexes, however 24.52 deaths per 100,000 males and boys.

Within the US, 23,365 folks died from firearm suicide in 2019. That works out to five.76 per 100,000 folks, however simply taking a look at males and boys, it’s 10.13 deaths per 100,000. China, Japan and Singapore have a few of the lowest charges, with lower than 0.05 firearm suicide deaths per 100,000 folks.  

What prevents firearm suicides?

Several studies have proven that stricter gun management legal guidelines are related to decrease charges of firearm suicide.  

For example, earlier than Australia handed laws proscribing firearm entry in 1996, gun-related suicide charges had been declining by a median of 3 per cent a year. After the introduction of gun legal guidelines, the speed dropped by 7.4 per cent a 12 months.  

Austria noticed an identical decline after the introduction of gun controls in 1997. Such measures have been proven to reduce firearm suicide rates in the US too.   

Though firearm suicide charges are decrease within the US than they had been in 1990, they’ve been on the rise since 2006, coinciding with elevated entry to weapons.  

Since 2000, the variety of firearms produced by producers has practically tripled, in accordance with a recent report from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  

As a result of suicide makes an attempt are sometimes impulsive acts, access to guns increases the risk of death. A 2020 research that adopted 26 million California residents for 12 years discovered that males who owned handguns had been eight occasions extra prone to die from firearm suicide in contrast with those that didn’t. For ladies who owned a handgun, the chance elevated to 35 occasions.  

Of all suicide makes an attempt, 8.5 per cent lead to demise. That charge rises to 90 per cent when a gun is used. Gun entry doesn’t simply imply somebody will die by gun versus one other methodology, says Nestadt, “it means somebody will die by gun as a substitute of surviving. And, importantly, for individuals who survive a suicide try, the overwhelming majority by no means go on to die by suicide later.” 

Past entry to firearms, childhood poverty, unemployment and alcohol consumption are additionally related to firearm suicide, in accordance with Ilic’s research. 

Want a listening ear? UK Samaritans: 116123; US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 800 273 8255; hotlines in other countries.

Journal reference: PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267817

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Article amended on 26 Might 2022

This story has been corrected to tell apart total charges of firearm deaths from these particular to males and boys. The hyperlink to a latest report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has additionally been corrected.

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