Suicides account for 60% of firearm-related deaths

Several experts estimate that every day 66 people take their lives with a type of gun.

Suicides account for more than half of all firearm deaths each year. This is according to researchers from several universities, who indicated that every day some 66 people take their own lives in the United States with a gun.

At a discussion with CBS news, Professor Mike Anestis who directs the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center at the Rutgers School of Public Health, said that, according to his data, "Suicide accounts for anywhere from 60% to 65% of all the gun deaths in the United States in any given year."

More suicides per day than deaths in worst mass shooting

This thesis is reinforced by University of Alabama Law Professor Fred Vars with the number of people who take their own lives per day with firearms. "In 2020, there were 66 gun suicides every day, which is more people than died in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. And we don't see it. You know, it doesn't make the news. It happens one person at a time. Unless it's a celebrity, we just don't hear about it," he said.

Suicides are not specified in firearm deaths.

Anestis notes that "more than half of all suicide deaths in any given year are caused by self-inflicted gunshot wounds. So, that's somewhere in the vicinity of 25,000 firearm suicide deaths in the U.S. every single year." This is no accident, but is due to the extremely high effectiveness of a gun in carrying out its purpose. "Almost 95% of folks who use a firearm do (die). They don't get a second chance." A percentage that is drastically reduced with other methods: "Intentional overdose? Only 2% to 3% of people who attempt suicide by overdose die."

These studies confirm one of the major claims of the defenders of the Second Amendment: many of the deaths reported each year in the reports of firearms victims are people who took their own lives voluntarily and are therefore not reported.

A bill to voluntarily suspend the ability to purchase a gun

Right now, the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center is working on Donna's Law so that people who may feel suicidal urges can sign up on a list so they won't be sold guns. "An individual would have the opportunity to suspend their ability to buy a gun, voluntarily, confidentially put their name into the already-existing background check system, and if they attempted to buy a gun, that transaction would be denied," Vars notes.

According to the Alabama expert, this law could save many lives, especially among people with bipolar disorder, about 15% of whom die by suicide. But not only for them: "Anybody, for whatever reason, could sign up for the list. You could have an anger problem, an addiction, have recently lost your job. There are other reasons people attempt suicide that do not involve mental illness."

So far, three states (Washington, Utah and Virginia) have passed similar legislation. Maryland has recently held hearings to study its implementation. In Congress and the Senate, for the moment, there is no initiative in this direction.