Article

Suicides at Shooting Ranges

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Abstract

Background: Some shooting ranges have adopted policies to prevent suicides at their facilities. Little data have been available to guide them. Aim: We aimed to describe the incidence and characteristics of suicides at public shooting ranges. Method: We conducted text searches of 63,710 firearm suicides in the 16 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System from 2004 to 2015 to identify those occurring at public shooting ranges. Results: A total of 118 (or 0.18%) occurred at a shooting range, or 0.12 per million population. If that rate held for the nation as a whole, there would have been roughly 35 shooting range suicides per year during the study period. In total, 88% of decedents arrived alone. When gun ownership was noted, 86% of guns were rented from the range. In some cases, people drove to the range and took their lives in the parking lot with their own gun. Limitations: Our search strategy may have missed cases, and the data may not be nationally representative. Conclusion: Suicides at shooting ranges are rare. Policies that some ranges have adopted – such as allowing rentals only if the person is not alone – are responsive to the actual characteristics of these deaths and could potentially prevent most.

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