More groups of people in the U.S. are at risk for gun suicide, according to new research from Columbia University Medical Center. These include people with lower incomes, those living with disabilities, and people who are socially isolated.
The Columbia study also reinforces what previous research has already shown: People living in states with higher rates of gun ownership (which the study defines as more than 50% of residents owning a gun) are at higher risk for gun suicide. And Dr. Olfson says the new data also reinforces that those at risk are unlikely to substitute different methods if guns aren’t available.
“The study findings in a sense make an argument against this idea of means substitution, that is if you prevent people from owning firearms who are suicidal, they’ll find another means of ending their lives. In fact, we don’t see support for that hypothesis or that argument in these data.”
Since previous suicide research has shown that suicidal decision-making is often short in duration and even fleeting, and the lethality of firearms is higher than any other method, this conclusion could change the conversation.
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