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The Role of Gun Violence in Suicide

By: Felix Howton

When most people think of gun violence in America, horrific images of school shootings and mass homicides come to mind. This is for good reason. Mass shootings dominate headlines and shed light on the severity of many systemic issues facing our society, such as the racism and xenophobia that has motivated a growing number of hate crimes in the past few years.

However, constituting 54% of gun deaths in the United States and committed mostly with firearms, suicides comprise most gun deaths, not homicides; the link between gun ownership and suicide cannot be overlooked. Studies evince that gun ownership vastly increases the chances of suicide due to the availability of such a brutally effective method. While 1.7 million suicide attempts occur each year, only about 48 thousand culminate to death by completed suicide as most attempts are unsuccessful. Suicide by firearm, however, exists as the most lethal form of suicide with 85% of attempts resulting in death compared to the 3% death rate presented by drug overdose, the most common suicide method. Guns represent an irreversible and immediate solution to a temporary crisis, removing the time for evaluation and the opportunity to call for help or turn back.

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