The Trace

10 Essential Facts About Guns and Suicide

Despite an alarming uptick in homicides in some urban areas in the last few years, violent death rates are significantly lower than they were in the 1990s. There is one notable exception to this trend. Suicide rates for men and women have steadily increased for the past 15 years.

The statistics are bleak. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. From ages 10 to 34, it is the second leading cause. Last year, at least 40,000 people in the U.S. died by suicide. From 1999 to 2014, the suicide rate for men and women jumped 24 percent.

There’s a long-standing stigma associated with suicide, and it gets far less media attention than other kinds of gun violence, such as mass shootings or domestic violence killings. Many religions view suicide as a sin; some consider it worse than homicide.

The role of guns in suicides is also often overlooked. Gun advocates have been slow to acknowledge the extra risks posed to suicidal people who have easy access to a gun. Yet those hazards are clear.

A firearm is used in a small minority of all attempts, but because guns are incredibly lethal, they are responsible for more than half of all suicide deaths. The Trace has prepared this statistical guide to illuminate the links between guns and suicides and identify some solutions that could save lives.