U.S. Gun Suicides Keep Rising; Now Make Up Half of All Suicides
THURSDAY, Nov. 30, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- The latest national data show that when it comes to suicide, Americans are increasingly resorting to firearms as their method of choice.
An analysis by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that of the nearly 50,000 suicides recorded in the United States in 2022, more than half (27,000) involved a gun.
Gun-related suicides have been on the rise over the past two decades, but they jumped by 11% during the pandemic, reported a team led by Wojciech Kaczkowski, of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
“The persistent upward trend in firearm suicide rates since 2020 across all racial and ethnic groups, coupled with unprecedented high rates during 2022, highlight the need for continuing prevention efforts,” the researchers said in their report.
In sheer numbers, white Americans suffered the highest death toll from gun suicide, the report found. But the rate at which guns are being used in suicides is rising fastest among minorities, Kaczkowski’s group noted.
For example, while the rate of suicides by firearm rose by 9% among white Americans between 2019 and 2022, it rose by 28% among Hispanic Americans, 42% among Black Americans and 66% among American Indians/Alaska Natives, the study found.
Why the sharp rise? Unemployment pressures during the pandemic and lack of access to mental health care may have played a role, the researchers theorized. “The pandemic might also have exacerbated known risk factors related to social isolation, relationship stressors and substance abuse,” they added.
Numerous steps should be taken to try and turn those numbers around, Kaczkowski’s team said. They include “portioning secure firearm storage” in homes and other spaces, as well as redoubled efforts to reduce feelings of isolation, homelessness and economic despair.
The report was published in the Dec. 1 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health crisis, help is at hand via the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Find out more about safe gun storage at Safe Kids Worldwide.
SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Dec. 1, 2023