Suicide by Gun

A Look at the Problematically Effective Use of Firearms in Suicide

Suicide is often a permanent solution to a temporary state of mind, which is why mental-health experts see gun control and responsible gun ownership as a critical part of cutting down on the 18,000 or so people who use a gun to kill themselves in the United States each year. “Suicide can be an impulsive act,” explained Jina Carvalho of the Glendon Association, a leading suicide-prevention and research organization based in Santa Barbara. “Therefore, restrictions on a lethal method like guns is a very important in reducing suicides.”

Unlike trying to overdose on pills or using other less successful means of suicide, self-inflicted gunshot wounds usually result in fatalities. “It’s a terrible word to use, but it is a correct word,” said Carvalho. “Guns are the most effective means for completion of suicide.” As such, the Glendon Association has been trying to educate mental-health professionals, gun dealers, and even families of the mentally ill about the warning signs of when someone may be thinking of killing themselves.

“We’ve been working hard in the community to see where the most vulnerable get access to methods,” she explained. “People are going to sell guns, and guns are not going to go away, but everybody can become educated to look for the signs of mental illness and vulnerability.”

For gun owners, Carvalho is clear. “Are there methods in the house?” she asked. “Take care of those.” For those considering suicide or others affected by suicide, call the free hotline 1-800-273-TALK.

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