Home Gun Ownership Tied to Youth Suicide

Study shows direct correlation with firearms in the home

The share of households that have guns is the single strongest predictor of how many young people commit suicide in a state, a new study shows.

At the state level, the share of households that owned guns in 2004 was strongly linked to the youth suicide rate over the next decade, researchers found, even after controlling for other factors such as depression, suicide plans, and previous suicide attempts.

Overall, the youth suicide rate rose about 27 percent with each 10 percentage-point increase in household gun ownership, according to the study, published Thursday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“When a youth attempts suicide, the major determinant of whether they are successful or not is the means they use,” says Dr. Michael Siegel, co-author of the study and a professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health. “We know firearms are a highly lethal means, so when someone uses a firearm for a suicide attempt, they’re likely to be successful.”

According to the CDC, about 45,000 Americans used guns to commit suicide in 2016 and 2016 combined. Over 2,000 of those deaths occurred in people ages 10 to 19, accounting for 42 percent of all suicides within that age group.


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