Objectives: To examine the relationship between state-level firearm ownership rates and gender-specific, age-adjusted firearm and total suicide rates across all 50 US states from 1981 to 2013.
Methods: We used panel data for all 50 states that included annual overall and gender-specific suicide and firearm suicide rates and a proxy for state-level household firearm ownership. We analyzed data by using linear regression and generalized estimating equations to account for clustering.
Results: State-level firearm ownership was associated with an increase in both male and female firearm-related suicide rates and with a decrease in nonfirearm-related suicide rates. Higher gun ownership was associated with higher suicide rates by any means among male, but not among female, persons.
Conclusions: We found a strong relationship between state-level firearm ownership and firearm suicide rates among both genders, and a relationship between firearm ownership and suicides by any means among male, but not female, individuals.
Policy implications: For male persons, policies that reduce firearm ownership will likely reduce suicides by all means and by firearms. For female persons, such policies will likely reduce suicides by firearms.