The Association Between Gun Ownership and Statewide Overall Suicide Rates

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2018 Apr;48(2):204-217. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12346. Epub 2017 Mar 13.


An extensive body of research has demonstrated an association between gun ownership and suicide that extends beyond the effects of a range of covariates. We aimed to expand on extant research by examining the extent to which gun ownership predicts statewide overall suicide rates beyond the effects of demographic, geographic, religious, psychopathological, and suicide-related variables. By extending the list of covariates utilized, considering those covariates simultaneously, and using more recent data, we sought to present a more stringent test. Gun ownership predicted statewide overall suicide rates, with the full model accounting for more than 92% of the variance in statewide suicide rates. The correlation between firearm suicide rates and the overall suicide rate was significantly stronger than the correlation between nonfirearm suicide rates and the overall suicide rate. These findings support the notion that access to and familiarity with firearms serves as a robust risk factor for suicide. Therefore, means safety efforts aimed at reducing accessibility and increasing safe storage of firearms would likely have a dramatic impact on statewide overall suicide rates.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ownership / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Young Adult