Background: Whereas firearm suicide mortality has been a longstanding public concern worldwide, in Greece no systematic analysis has been reported so far despite the recent evidence of a rising rate of gun ownership.
Aims: To estimate the proportion of firearm suicides on the island of Crete, Southern Greece, well-known for its widespread gun ownership; to describe the victims' sociodemographic profile and firearm-related suicide variables; and to assess the severity of suicidal intention in the group.
Methods: Records of suicides between 1999 and 2007 were reviewed and information was extracted into a computerized database. A rating of the circumstances section of the Beck's Suicide Intent Scale (SIS) for each case was also performed.
Results: The firearm suicide rate was 1.3 per 100,000, with males constituting the vast majority. These men were more likely to be less than 55 years of age, to have lived in the western part of the island, to have some degree of planning prior to the suicidal act, and to have used a shotgun, but less likely to have left a note.
Conclusions: As an important first step toward implementing preventive initiatives the authors stress the need for a thorough look at the sociocultural factors associated with firearms in the region.