Teen Suicide & Firearms


One Million & Counting
cALL 800-273-8255 or
text "sos" to 741741

Guidance for Grown-Ups has compiled information here on use of firearms by youth in suicide. See also Youth Suicide. If you are in crisis, 1st call 911 while you're looking in the front of your local yellow pages for the number of the local suicide prevention hotline. If you can't get through to either of those, click on Emergency Numbers.

Having suicidal thoughts? Watch this video.

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Crisis Text Hotline 741741

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800.273.TALK (8255) or TDD 800.448.1833
Curry County Crisis Line - 877-519-9322

One Important Suicide Fact That Nobody Is Talking About
How Much Money Does Gun Violence Cost in Your State?
Consensus statement on youth suicide by firearms

Indicated Interventions
Selective Interventions
Universal Interventions
Future Directions


Real Time Death Toll as of

One Important Suicide Fact That Nobody Is Talking About

Most suicide attempts are unsuccessful—except when it comes to guns.

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.
Source: www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/09/suicide-gun-stats

How Much Money Does Gun Violence Cost in Your State?

Here's who pays the most for America's $229 billion a year in gun carnage.

Our ongoing investigation of gun violence, which costs the United States at least $229 billion a year, includes data on the the economic toll for individual states. Wyoming has a small population but the highest overall rate of gun deaths—including the nation's highest suicide rate—with costs working out to about $1,400 per resident. Louisiana has the highest gun homicide rate in the nation, with costs per capita of more than $1,300. Among the four most populous states, the costs per capita in the gun rights strongholds of Florida and Texas outpace those in more strictly regulated California and New York. Hawaii and Massachusetts, with their relatively low gun ownership rates and tight gun laws, have the lowest gun death rates, and costs per capita roughly a fifth as much as those of the states that pay the most.
Source: www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/how-much-money-does-gun-violence-cost-in-your-state

Consensus statement on youth suicide by firearms


Given the costs to American society and families wrought by youth suicide, we believe that immediate action needs to be taken. There is clear evidence that intervening in or preventing the immediate accessibility of a lethal weapon can save lives. We have identified the safe storage of guns as one preventive intervention approach that would result in a decrease in the number of youth suicides. We believe that a combination of indicated, selective and universal preventive interventions addressing this objective can successfully lead to a reduction in youth firearm suicides in our homes and communities. The achievement of this goal can only come about through the cooperation, coordination, and collaboration of concerned organizations at all levels of the community.
Source: www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13811119808258292?journalCode=usui20


  • Youth suicide is a multidimensional and complex behavior, with many associated risk factors (Berman & Jobes, 1991; Brent & Perper, 1995; Lewinsohn et al., 1996; Marttunen et al., 1992).
  • Youth suicide is a major public health problem in America, with rates now surpassing those for the nation as a whole (Kachur et al., 1995).
  • Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among youth (ages 15-24) and second-leading cause of death for 15-19 year olds in the US (Kachur et al., 1995).
  • Epidemiological surveys indicate dramatic increases in suicidal behaviors particularly among young African American males, Native American males, and younger children (below the age of 14) (Kachur et al., 1995).
  • Firearms are the most common method of suicide by youth. This is true for both males and females, younger and older adolescents, and for all races (Kachur et al., 1995).
  • The increase in the rate of youth suicide (and the number of deaths by suicide) over the past four decades is largely related to the use of firearms as a method (Boyd & Moscicki, 1986; CDC, 1986; Kachur et al., 1995).
  • The most common location for the occurrence of firearm suicides by youth is the home (Brent et al., 1993).
  • There is a positive association between the accessibility and availability of firearms in the home and the risk for youth suicide (Brent et al., 1993; Kellerman et al., 1992).
  • The risk conferred by guns in the home is proportional to the accessibility (e.g., loaded and unsecured firearms) and the number of guns in the home (Brent et al., 1993; Kellerman et al., 1992).
  • Guns in the home, particularly loaded guns, are associated with increased risk for suicide by youth, both with and without identifiable mental health problems or suicidal risk factors (Brent et al., 1993).
  • If a gun is used to attempt suicide, a fatal outcome will result 78% to 90% of the time (Annest et al., 1995; Card, 1974)
  • Public policy initiatives that restrict access to guns (especially handguns) are associated with a reduction of firearm suicide and suicide overall, especially among youth (Carrington et al., 1994; Loftin et al., 1991; Sloan et al., 1990

Indicated Interventions:

  • To achieve firearms-secure homes, we must educate parents or parental figures who are gun-owners to (a) understanding the risk associated with gun ownership with respect to violent death and suicide; and (b) the importance of gun safety, namely making a gun inoperable by and inaccessible to youth.
  • Professionals who come in contact with at-risk youth and their families must be educated to routinely ask about the presence and method of storage of firearms in the home, and to educate all families about safe storage practice for families who choose to keep guns. This can take place in the context of well-child care by primary care physicians, as well as by any professional who would come into contact with youth at risk for suicidal behavior (e.g., child welfare, juvenile justice, educational professionals, mental health professionals, etc.).

Selective Interventions

  • Develop, disseminate, and evaluate technologies that would decrease firearm operability by youth, thereby making it much more difficult for an adolescent to use a gun for a suicide and increase market demand for these new technologies.
  • Train and educate about risks associated with guns in the home; the need for safer storage of guns; and identification of risk factors for youth suicide for all parents, professionals who take care of youth at risk, and all firearms owners.

Universal Interventions:

  • At the most universal level of intervention, develop models promoting community and parental responsibility for consistent supervision of adolescents; maintenance of alcohol and drug-free homes; and if there is a gun in the home, adherence to safe storage (i.e., inaccessible and inoperable firearms).
  • Seek partnerships and collaborations with organizations and agencies that have a shared stake in the issues of youth suicide and violence, such as religious organizations, youth service organizations, juvenile justice, child welfare, community service organizations.

Future Directions:

Do epidemiological research that would increase our knowledge about:

  • Culturally-specific issues associated with youth suicide and firearms, such as those in specific ethnic groups (e.g., African American, Native American), or in rural areas.
  • Product-based research to develop technologies to increase the safety of firearms.
  • A better understanding of the cognitions, attitudes, and motivations for gun ownership and safe storage behaviors
  • Do research the gender differences in youth suicide.
  • Understand the causal sequences leading up to youth suicide by firearms
  • Do studies of the influence of media portrayals of violence and firearms use.
  • Rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of proposed preventive interventions for youth suicide.
  • Establish, support, and maintain surveillance and reporting systems of firearm-related suicides and suicidal behaviors.


  • Annest JL, Mercy JA, Gibson, DR, Ryan, GW (1995): National estimates of nonfatal firearm-related injury. Beyond the tip of the iceberg. Journal of the American Medical Association, 273 (22), 1749-54.
  • Berman AL, Jobes DA (1991): Adolescent suicide: Assessment and intervention. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
  • Boyd JH, Moscicki, EK (1986). Firearms and youth suicide. American Journal of Public Health, 76(10), 1240-1242.
  • Brent DA, Perper JA, Moritz G, Baugher M, Schweers J, Roth C (1993). Firearms and adolescent suicide: A community case-control study. American Journal of Diseases of Children, 147, 1066-1071.
  • Brent DA, Perper JA (1995). Research in adolescent suicide: Implications for training, service delivery, and public policy. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 25, 222-230.
  • Card JJ (1974). Lethality of Suicidal methods and suicide risk: Two distinct concepts. Omega, 5, 37-45.
  • Carrington PJ, Moyer S (1994). Gun control and suicide in Ontario. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151, 606-608.
  • Centers for Disease Control (1986). Youth Suicide in the United States, 1970-1980.
  • Department of Health and Human Services (1994). U.S. Public Health Service. Healthy people 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives. (p. 230). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
  • Kachur SP, Potter LB, James SP, Powell KE (1995). Suicide in the United States 1980-1992. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Violence Surveillance Summary Series, No.1.
  • Kellerman AL, Rivara FP, Rushford NB, et al. (1992). Suicide in the home in relationship to gun ownership. New England Journal of Medicine, 327, 467-472.
  • Lewinsohn PM, Rohde P, Seeley JR (1996). Adolescent suicidal ideation and attempts: Prevalence, risk factors, and clinical implications. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 3, 25-46.
  • Loftin C., McDowall D., Wiersema B, Cottey TJ (1991). Effects of restrictive licensing of handguns on homicide and suicide in the District of Columbia. New England Journal of Medicine, 325, 1615-1620.
  • Marttunen MJ, Aro HM, Lonnqvist JK (1992). Adolescent Suicide: Endpoint of long-term difficulties. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31, 649-654.
  • Mrazek PJ, Haggerty RJ (1994). Reducing risks for mental disorders: Frontiers for preventive intervention research. Institute of Medicine. National Academy Press: Washington, D.C.
  • Sloan JH, Rivara FP, Reay DT, Ferris JAJ, Kellermann AL (1990). Firearm regulations and rates of suicide -- A comparison of two metropolitan areas. New England Journal of Medicine, 322, 369-373.
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My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?  Charles M. Schultz

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