Statistics to Know
- In 2020, 83% of firearm suicides in Minnesota were among non-Hispanic white males.2
- Minnesotans over the age of 75 are at increased risk.2
- The age-adjusted firearm suicide rate among residents of Minnesota’s most rural counties is more than twice that of residents of the most urban counties1; however, due to their large populations, Hennepin and Ramsey counties accounted for 22% of Minnesota firearm suicide deaths in 2020.2
- In the United States, nearly 90% of suicidal acts with a firearm are fatal, compared to less than 10% of suicidal acts overall.4 (Thus, firearms are used in less than 5% of all suicide attempts but in more than 50% of fatal suicide attempts.4) Suicidal crises are often self-limiting, suicide attempts are often impulsive acts, and the vast majority (90%) of those who survive such an attempt do not subsequently die by suicide.5,6 Thus, reducing access to this lethal method of suicide saves lives.6 In fact, an association between access to firearms and an increased risk of suicide has been observed in every study of this topic conducted within the United States.6
How You Can Help Save Lives
Practice safe firearm storage. All firearms within a home should be stored locked and unloaded, and ammunition should be stored and locked separately.7,8 Studies indicate that these practices reduce the risk of firearm suicide.7 For individuals at increased risk of suicide, offsite storage of firearms may be the safest approach.8 There are many resources available that present options for storage, both within and outside the home.8
Know the warning signs of suicide and take immediate action if need be.9
Advocate for commonsense gun policies that play an important role in reducing firearm suicide rates.
- Proposed comprehensive firearm safety legislation in Minnesota would (among other provisions) require a license to obtain, possess, or carry a firearm, which would in turn require a require a background check, liability insurance, and training.10 Implementation of a licensing law in Connecticut was associated with a 33% reduction in firearm suicide rates, whereas repeal of Missouri’s licensing law was associated with a 24% increase.11
- Proposed extreme risk legislation in Minnesota would provide a mechanism for appropriate parties to petition a court to temporarily limit firearm access among individuals who pose a risk to themselves or others.12 Studies from Connecticut and Indiana indicate that extreme risk laws are associated with reductions in firearm suicides.13-15
- Examples of action steps include:
- Contacting one’s Minnesota legislators to express support for such measures
- Writing a letter to the editor of one’s local newspaper
- Advocating for federal policies16 that would reduce rates of firearm suicide and other forms of gun violence
- Firearm suicide in the United States. Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund website. https://everytownresearch.org/firearm-suicide/. Published August 30, 2019. Updated December 28, 2021. Accessed March 21, 2022.
- Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2020 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released in 2022. CDC WONDER website. http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html. Accessed Mar 16, 2022.
- Barton C, Nass D. Exactly how high are gun violence rates in the U.S., compared to other countries? The Trace website. https://www.thetrace.org/2021/10/why-more-shootings-in-america-gun-violence-data-research/#:~:text=Americans%20are%20still%20significantly%20more,rates%20compare%20to%20other%20countries. Published October 5, 2021. Accessed March 16, 2022.
- Connor A, Azrael D, Miller M. Suicide case-fatality rates in the United States, 2007 to 2014: a nationwide population-based study. Ann Intern Med. 2019;171:885-895. doi:10.7326/M19-1324.
- Miller M, Azrael D, Barber C. Suicide mortality in the United States: the importance of attending to method in understanding population-level disparities in the burden of suicide. Annu Rev Public Health. 2012;33:393-408. doi:10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031811-124636.
- Means Matter basics. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health website. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/means-matter/. Accessed March 16, 2022.
- Reducing suicides by firearms. American Public Health Association website. https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2019/01/28/reducing-suicides-by-firearms. Published November 13, 2018. Accessed March 16, 2022.
- Prevent firearm suicide. Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence website. https://preventfirearmsuicide.efsgv.org/interventions/individual/. Accessed March 16, 2022.
- National Institute of Mental Health. Warning signs of suicide. Infographic. National Institute of Mental Health website. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/warning-signs-of-suicide. Accessed March 16, 2022.
- Marty J. Public safety – firearms regulation. Senator John Marty website. https://sen.johnmarty.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Summary-of-Marty-Firearms-Regulation-Bills.pdf. Accessed March 16, 2022.
- McCourt AD, Crifasi CK, Stuart EA, et al. Purchaser licensing, point-of-sale background check laws, and firearm homicide and suicide in 4 US states, 1985-2017. Am J Public Health. 2020;110:1546-1552. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2020.305822.
- Release: Rep. Moller and Sen. Latz introduce legislation enabling extreme risk protection orders to prevent gun violence. Minnesota House of Representatives website. https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/profile/news/15511/31330. Published February 25, 2021. Accessed March 16, 2022.
- Kivisto AJ, Phalen PL. Effects of risk-based firearm seizure laws in Connecticut and Indiana on suicide rates, 1981-2015. Psychiatric Services. 2018;69:855-862. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201700250.
- Swanson JW, Easter MM, Alanis-Hirsch K, et al. Criminal justice and suicide outcomes with Indiana’s risk-based gun seizure law. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online. 2019;47:188-197. doi:10.29158/JAAPL.003835-19.
- Swanson JW, Norko MA, Lin H-J, et al. Implementation and Effectiveness of Connecticut’s Risk-Based Gun Removal Law: Does it Prevent Suicides? Law and Contemporary Problems. 2017;80:179-208. http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/lcp/vol80/iss2/8/. Accessed March 21, 2022.
- Brady is about common-sense gun laws. Brady website. https://www.bradyunited.org/legislation. Accessed March 16, 2022.