A Lack in Gun Control: Is It Leading To More Suicides?

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A collection of firearms in the U.S.There have been hot debates in the U.S. over gun control policies in the past decade. It is perhaps no surprise then that gun-related incidents are killing Americans faster than car accidents. However, statistics tend to overlook the relation between gun ownership and suicide. Does more access to guns equate to a higher suicide rate?

Gun Ownership in the U.S.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 helps regulate gun ownership by prohibiting the sale of firearms to several groups of individuals, including minors, mentally impaired individuals, and those with criminal records. However, as of 2016, there are no federal laws banning semi-automatic assault weapons, military-style .50 caliber rifles, handguns, or large capacity ammunition magazines.

Access to a Gun Increases the Risk of Suicide

Every day, 58 Americans kill themselves with a gun. A study in the American Journal of Public Health finds that a higher gun-owning population leads to more suicides. In contrast, states such as California and New Jersey with low gun ownership rates have fewer cases of suicide. Furthermore, a study conducted by the National Institute for Health shows that out of 44 youth suicides, 36 of the victims got the firearm from home.

Talking to Suicidal Patients About Guns Can Help Prevent Suicide

A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that talking about gun ownership had a therapeutic effect on patients, especially for those more at risk for suicide. However, records show that attending health workers neglected to question about half of 1,358 patients checked into an emergency room following a suicide attempt about guns. Bio & Trauma Scene Clean Up believes that patients should also be properly educated about the repercussions of suicide and the impact it could have on a patient’s family.

Guns are lethal weapons that are responsible for more than half of all suicide rates. Relaxed gun laws in the country have led to more access to guns, hence a higher rate of suicides. Civilians on their own may not have the power to change the current gun policy, but they are responsible for educating themselves about the risks of gun ownership and helping out those at risk for suicide.