We hear about gun violence in blips: The latest mass shooting or grisly homicide brings national attention and calls to action, and then the issue falls under the radar. It’s easy to forget that two-thirds of gun deaths aren’t high-profile homicides, but suicides—happening quietly, at a rate of one every 25 minutes.
A new report by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun safety advocacy group, delivers sobering stats based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and academic journal articles—perhaps the most eye-opening being that keeping a firearm at home increases the risk of suicide by three times. A whopping 82 percent of teens who commit suicide with a gun are using a family member’s firearm.
Guns are a particularly effective means of suicide precisely because they are so lethal: Of those who attempt suicide by firearm, nine in 10 succeed. By contrast, only one in 50 overdose attempts result in death. The lethality is compounded by impulsivity: The majority of suicide attempts occur less than an hour after the decision is made to commit suicide.
One common argument of the gun lobby is that suicidal individuals will find a way to take their lives—if they don’t die by gun, they’ll do it by some other means. But the reality is that 90 percent of those who fail in a suicide attempt do not end up dying by suicide. With guns, though, not many get a second chance.