Associations Between Gun Laws and Suicides

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Associations Between Gun Laws and Suicides

Category: Firearm Policies, Suicide|Journal: American Journal of Epidemiology (full text)|Author: C Baum, M Ghiani, S Hawkins|Year: 2019

We examined the impact of a state gun law environment on suicides overall and within demographic subgroups. We linked 211,766 firearm suicides and 204,625 nonfirearm suicides in the 50 states of the United States for 2005–2015 to the population in each state, year, race/ethnicity, sex, and age, as well as to an index of state-level gun control. Difference-in-differences, zero-inflated, negative-binomial models were used to evaluate the impact of strengthening gun control on firearm and nonfirearm suicides. We subsequently stratified by sex and tested for interactions with race/ethnicity and age. We found 25 states strengthened gun control by an average of 6 points. Such an increase may result in a 3.3% (incidence rate ratio = 0.967; 95% confidence interval: 0.938, 0.996) decrease in firearm suicides. Although no impact on nonfirearm suicides was found overall, interaction models showed an increase in nonfirearm suicides among black men, white women, black women, and older individuals. Strengthening gun control may reduce firearm suicides overall but may increase nonfirearm suicides in some populations. The results indicate stricter gun laws should be advocated for and that additional policies are needed for populations who shifted to nonfirearm suicides.

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