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  • Alexi Chacon

People Who Die By Suicide With a Firearm Are Less Likely to Have Sought Mental Health Treatment


A new study from researchers at Rutgers University has found that people who die by suicide with a firearm are less likely to show traditional risk factors than those who use other methods.

Some highlights:

The study compared those who died by suicide with a firearm to those who used other methods to determine whether traditional risk factors were apparent.

  • Of those who died by suicide with a firearm, 26% had a history of seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment, compared to 40% who used other methods.

  • Just 10% of those who used a firearm also had a history of previous suicide attempts, compared to 25% who used other methods.

Overall, the researchers found that people who die by suicide with a firearm are more likely to talk about suicide in the month prior compared to those who use other methods, but are less likely to have actually sought treatment.

The study used data from the National Violent Death Reporting System on 234,652 individuals who died by suicide between 2003 and 2018.

Why it matters:

The researchers say the findings suggest stakeholders struggle to prevent suicide by firearm because people who choose to use one often don’t show the traditional signs of suicide risk, making diagnosis difficult.

One more:

The study also found that those who die by suicide with a firearm are overwhelmingly more likely to succeed on the first attempt.

  • Around 90% of suicide attempts with a firearm lead to death, compared to only 5% of attempts by all other methods combined.

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