Gun control and suicide: the impact of state firearm regulations in the United States, 1995-2004

Health Policy. 2011 Jun;101(1):95-103. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2010.10.005. Epub 2010 Nov 1.


Objective: To empirically assess the impact of firearm regulation on male suicides.

Method: A negative binomial regression model was applied by using a panel of state level data for the years 1995-2004. The model was used to identify the association between several firearm regulations and male suicide rates.

Results: Our empirical analysis suggest that firearms regulations which function to reduce overall gun availability have a significant deterrent effect on male suicide, while regulations that seek to prohibit high risk individuals from owning firearms have a lesser effect.

Conclusions: Restricting access to lethal means has been identified as an effective approach to suicide prevention, and firearms regulations are one way to reduce gun availability. The analysis suggests that gun control measures such as permit and licensing requirements have a negative effect on suicide rates among males. Since there is considerable heterogeneity among states with regard to gun control, these results suggest that there are opportunities for many states to reduce suicide by expanding their firearms regulations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Empirical Research
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Government Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Suicide / trends*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult