The authors studied 30 patients treated at an urban trauma center for self-inflicted gunshot wounds, most or all of which would have been fatal without emergency treatment. About half the patients had used alcohol or drugs immediately before wounding themselves, and slightly more than half had experienced interpersonal conflict just before the incident. Thirteen of the 30 were women. Only nine were given diagnoses of major depressive episode or dysthymia; none of the patients had written suicide notes. These data indicate that the reported demographic and clinical characteristics of impulsive, violent self-injury must be reexamined.