World Health Organization Suicide Report Points to the Importance of Limiting Access to Lethal Means | Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

World Health Organization Suicide Report Points to the Importance of Limiting Access to Lethal Means

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 5, 2014 Contact: Tim McHugh 202-370-8135 tmchugh [at] bradymail [dot] org

Guns the most common method of suicide in the U.S.

Washington, D.C. - The World Health Organization (WHO) published its first global report on suicide prevention today, bringing attention to this serious but largely preventable public health issue. The report cited pesticide poisoning, hanging, and firearms as being among the most common methods of suicide globally, emphasizing the importance of limiting access to these lethal means as a key strategy for suicide prevention.

Suicide method varies from country to country. According to the WHO’s report, “The relatively high proportion of suicides by firearms in high-income countries is primarily driven by high-income countries in the Americas where firearms account for 46% of all suicides; in other high-income countries firearms account for only 4.5% of all suicides.”

Suicide is, in fact, the leading cause of gun death in the United States. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the roughly 32,000 firearm-related deaths in 2011 (the most recent year available), nearly 20,000 – 62 percent – were suicides.

“If we want to dramatically reduce deaths caused by guns, we need to put as much focus on preventing gun suicides as we do on gun homicides,” said Jennie Lintz, Director of Public Health and Safety at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Studies show that the risk of suicide is two to ten times higher in homes with a gun.”

This is why Brady established the Suicide-Proof Your Home Campaign, which raises awareness about the importance of restricting access to firearms and other lethal means as an effective way to reduce the risk of suicide. In the U.S., one in three children and teens live in homes with firearms, many not stored securely. What’s more, studies of firearm suicide among youth have found that 82% used a gun belonging to a family member. The Suicide-Proof Campaign encourages parents to reduce the likelihood of suicide by removing or locking up firearms and other lethal means, such as prescription medications.

“Lives can be saved by making sure that our children and teens do not have easy access to guns. We as parents need to do everything we can to make our homes safer for our children and our communities,” concluded Lintz.

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