Gun control and suicide: The impact of state firearm regulations in the United States, 1995–2004

School of Public Health, Department of Health Services Research, University of Aarhus, Denmark.
Health Policy (Impact Factor: 1.91). 10/2010; 101(1):95-103. DOI: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2010.10.005
Source: PubMed


To empirically assess the impact of firearm regulation on male suicides.
A negative binomial regression model was applied by using a panel of state level data for the years 1995-2004. The model was used to identify the association between several firearm regulations and male suicide rates.
Our empirical analysis suggest that firearms regulations which function to reduce overall gun availability have a significant deterrent effect on male suicide, while regulations that seek to prohibit high risk individuals from owning firearms have a lesser effect.
Restricting access to lethal means has been identified as an effective approach to suicide prevention, and firearms regulations are one way to reduce gun availability. The analysis suggests that gun control measures such as permit and licensing requirements have a negative effect on suicide rates among males. Since there is considerable heterogeneity among states with regard to gun control, these results suggest that there are opportunities for many states to reduce suicide by expanding their firearms regulations.

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    • "In 1994, a federal law established 18 as the minimum legal age for the possession or purchase of handguns, including sales by gun owners who are not licensed dealers. American states vary in their requirements for gun ownership prohibition laws, such as banning of minors and people with history of felony, domestic violence offence, and mental or substance use problems [24]. Furthermore, gun safe storage laws, often referred to as child access prevention (CAP) laws, were enacted to prevent young people from gaining access to firearms. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The lethality of the suicide method employed is a strong risk factor for the completion of suicide. We examined whether annual changes in the pattern of suicide methods is related to annual changes in suicide rates in South Korea, the United States (US), and Finland. Methods We analyzed annual data from 2000–2011 for South Korea and Finland, and 2000–2010 for the US in order to examine trends in the rates and methods of suicide. Data on suicide methods were obtained from the World Health Organization (WHO) mortality database. Results Along with an annual rapid increase in suicide rates, the incidence of hanging increased steadily while suicide by self-poisoning steadily decreased in South Korea. In the US, along with an annual increase in suicide rates, the proportion of suicides committed by hanging increased while those committed with the use of firearms steadily decreased. In Finland, annual changes in the suicide rate and suicide method were not statistically significant during the study period. Conclusions Our present findings suggest that the increased use of specific lethal methods for suicide, namely hanging, is reflected in the increased suicide rates in the Korean and the US populations. The most effective approach for reducing overall suicide rates may be the implementation of population-based initiatives that reduce both the accessibility (e.g., access to firearms) and the social acceptability (e.g., effective and responsible regulations for reporting suicide) of lethal methods of suicide.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · International Journal of Mental Health Systems
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    • "The methods of committing suicide vary among countries. In the United States, a firearm is the most common method for committing suicide, and the risk of its use is highest among households in which a gun is kept (15). In the rural areas of many developing countries, the ingestion of pesticides is the principal method of committing suicide, and the prevalence of this method is believed to be an easy access to pesticides in developing countries (16). "
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    ABSTRACT: During visits to emergency medical facilities, the primary care of and risk identification for individuals who have attempted suicide is considered an important element in suicide prevention. With the ultimate goal of helping to prevent suicide, the aim of the present study was to determine the characteristics of patients with self-inflicted injuries who presented in the emergency department. Patients with self-inflicted injuries who visited 1 of 3 sentinel emergency medical centers from 2007 through 2009 were included in the study. The characteristics, methods, and reasons for suicide attempts were evaluated. Moreover, predictors of severe outcomes were evaluated. A total of 2,996 patients with self-inflicted injuries visited the three centers during a period of 3 yr. The male-to-female suicide ratio was 1:1.38 (P < 0.001). The mean age was 41 yr. Poisoning was the most common method of self-inflicted injury (68.7%) among all age groups. Medication was the primary means of injury in the < 50 age group, and the use of agricultural chemicals was the primary means in the ≥ 50 age group. The reasons for attempting suicide varied among the age groups. The predictors of severe outcome are male gender, older age, and not having consumed alcohol.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Journal of Korean medical science
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    • "Suicide prevention research has several challenges, partly due to the complexity of factors involved in suicidal behaviour. In the last decades, several epidemiological studies reported changes in rates and methods of suicide and the overall observed decline in rates of suicide in most parts of the worlds coincides with a reduction in the availability of lethal methods [34,63,64]. Therefore, strategies aimed to limit the access to means used in suicide is effective and should be an important part of a suicide prevention strategy [10]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Restricting access to common means of suicide, such as firearms, toxic gas, pesticides and other, has been shown to be effective in reducing rates of death in suicide. In the present review we aimed to summarize the empirical and clinical literature on controlling the access to means of suicide. This review made use of both MEDLINE, ISI Web of Science and the Cochrane library databases, identifying all English articles with the keywords "suicide means", "suicide method", "suicide prediction" or "suicide prevention" and other relevant keywords. A number of factors may influence an individual's decision regarding method in a suicide act, but there is substantial support that easy access influences the choice of method. In many countries, restrictions of access to common means of suicide has lead to lower overall suicide rates, particularly regarding suicide by firearms in USA, detoxification of domestic and motor vehicle gas in England and other countries, toxic pesticides in rural areas, barriers at jumping sites and hanging, by introducing "safe rooms" in prisons and hospitals. Moreover, decline in prescription of barbiturates and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), as well as limitation of drugs pack size for paracetamol and salicylate has reduced suicides by overdose, while increased prescription of SSRIs seems to have lowered suicidal rates. Restriction to means of suicide may be particularly effective in contexts where the method is popular, highly lethal, widely available, and/or not easily substituted by other similar methods. However, since there is some risk of means substitution, restriction of access should be implemented in conjunction with other suicide prevention strategies.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
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