Every day, an average of three youths between 10 and 19 years old die by firearm-related suicide. Although the link between gun ownership and overall suicide rates is well established, less is known about the relationship between household gun ownership and suicide rates among youth.
Now, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers finds that states with higher levels of household gun ownership also have higher overall youth suicide rates, with every 10 percentage-point increase in household gun ownership associated with a 26.9 percent increase in the youth suicide rate.
Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study is the first to examine the relationship between household gun ownership and youth suicide rates while controlling for differences in the rate of youth suicide attempts across states.
“The availability of firearms is contributing to an increase in the actual number of suicides, not just leading youth to substitute other means of suicide for guns,” says BUSPH pre-doctoral fellow Ms. Anita Knopov, the study’s lead author.
The researchers found that the overall youth suicide rate from 2005 to 2015 ranged from a high of 15 youth suicides per 100,000 people in Alaska to a low of 3 per 100,000 people in New Jersey. The estimated household gun ownership in 2004 ranged from a high of 66 percent in Wyoming to a low of 10 in Hawaii.
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