Gun Suicide Accounts for Nearly Two-Thirds of All Gun Deaths in the United States
Resources for Journalists on Responsibly Covering Gun Suicide are Available Here
WASHINGTON — Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements applauding the White House for it’s commitment, on World Suicide Prevention Day, “to connecting with those who are struggling and to encouraging communities, organizations, and governments to work together to prevent suicide.” September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
“My Administration is also committed to addressing suicide by firearm. Firearms are responsible for over half of all suicide deaths in the United States. That is one of the reasons we have published model red flag laws for States — allowing family members and law enforcement to petition for a temporary firearms ban for individuals who present a danger to themselves or others. When people present a danger to themselves or others, we must reduce their access to lethal means and ensure they have access to mental health services and supports,” writes President Joe Biden in the proclamation.
“As Americans recognize World Suicide Prevention Day, we must also recognize that easy access to guns contributes to so many avoidable tragedies,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “President Biden understands that one of the key steps to preventing suicide is preventing people in distress from getting their hands on a gun, and we applaud his forceful advocacy for red flag laws.”
“If we want to reduce death by suicide, we need to reduce access to guns, especially for those who are clearly a danger to themselves,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Thankfully, the Biden-Harris Administration recognizes the severity of this crisis and is committed to taking action to save lives.”
Firearm suicide can be prevented, and one of the most effective things is disrupting access to a gun. Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides, resulting in an average of 64 deaths a day. Most people who attempt suicide do not die—unless they use a gun.
The deep economic downturn caused by COVID-19, combined with the millions of guns already in homes and the millions more being purchased during each month of the pandemic, is a volatile mix that could exacerbate the risk of firearm suicide. Researchers continue to be worried about the surge of gun sales, the number of unsecured firearms at home, and the ongoing stress and anxiety of our communities— especially among young people, people of color, and veterans whose rates of gun suicide have risen over the past decade.
For the past two fiscal years, the House of Representatives has included critical language in its spending bills that encourages the Department of Veterans Affairs to use gun safety laws like extreme risk laws to intervene when there is evidence a veteran may be a threat to themselves with a firearm, and to adopt programs and protocols on secure firearm storage to reduce immediate access to firearms in moments of crisis. Last year, the language was signed into law. This Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Congress should pass similar legislation and include these lifesaving provisions in the next fiscal year spending package.
This September, Everytown for Gun Safety is honoring gun suicide survivors and advocating for proven solutions to prevent gun suicide including extreme risk laws, laws and programs that promote secure firearm storage such as Be SMART, public awareness about the risk posed by guns in the home and how to mitigate those risks, and resources to prevent this tragedy in all communities.
More information on gun suicide here. To speak with a policy expert, Moms Demand Action volunteer and/or Students Demand Action volunteer, please do not hesitate to reach out.