Suicide, guns, and public policy

Am J Public Health. 2013 Jan;103(1):27-31. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300964. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


Suicide is a serious public health concern that is responsible for almost 1 million deaths each year worldwide. It is commonly an impulsive act by a vulnerable individual. The impulsivity of suicide provides opportunities to reduce the risk of suicide by restricting access to lethal means. In the United States, firearms, particularly handguns, are the most common means of suicide. Despite strong empirical evidence that restriction of access to firearms reduces suicides, access to firearms in the United States is generally subject to few restrictions. Implementation and evaluation of measures such as waiting periods and permit requirements that restrict access to handguns should be a top priority for reducing deaths from impulsive suicide in the United States.

MeSH terms

  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Public Policy*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • United States