Objective: To examine the effect of specific firearm control legislation on firearm and overall suicide rates.
Design: Retrospective survey of data from the Register of the Suicide Research and Prevention Program, Queensland Department of Health. The hypothesis was tested that the legislation would reduce firearm and overall suicides more in metropolitan and provincial city areas than in rural areas, where firearm ownership is higher.
Setting: State of Queensland 1990-1993.
Outcome measures: Suicide rates by age, sex and method for metropolitan, provincial city and rural areas in the two years before (1990-1991) and after (1992-1993) legislation.
Results: Mean annual firearm suicide rates declined significantly (P < 0.05) in metropolitan and provincial city areas after legislation (from 3.6 to 2.3 per 100,000 and from 5.2 to 3.1 per 100,000, respectively), with significant declines among men and in the 15-29 years age group. Rates increased slightly in rural areas (from 7.2 to 8.2 per 100,000). Overall suicide rates declined in provincial areas only, with minimal change in metropolitan areas and a slight rise in rural areas.
Conclusion: These results provide preliminary evidence that firearm control legislation, including a 28-day "cooling-off" period before firearm purchase, reduces suicide rates, especially among younger adult men.