Suicide and Guns

You could save the life of someone you love. Friends don’t help friends commit suicide. Lock your guns. Always.

In Oregon, at least one person every day takes his life by shooting himself to death.

From 2010 to 2014, an average of 379 people shot themselves to death in Oregon yearly.

Removing firearms from the home, even temporarily, can save the life of someone you love.

The highest rate of suicide by firearm is by White males over the age of 65.

From 2010 to 2014:

  • 2,280 Oregonians died from firearms injuries.
  • 1,897 were suicides.
  • The highest firearm injury death rate occurred among White males, aged 65 and older, due to a high suicide rate (38.7 per 100,000).
  • Firearms were used to kill in 87% of the homicide/suicide murders in Oregon.
  • Almost half (44%) of people who died by firearm suicide had a depressed mood.  One-third had a diagnosed mental illness. About a quarter (27%) were being treated for a mental illness and 13% had a history of suicide.

To reduce the risk of suicide, keep all firearms securely locked, unloaded and stored separately from ammunition or store the firearms in another location such as a firearm storage facility. (If you transfer firearms to a friend, even temporarily, you are required by law to perform a background check on the person to whom you are transferring the firearms.)

When most people think of gun violence, they think of homicides or unintentional shootings. The reality, however, is that most shooting deaths in Oregon are suicides. In fact, about one person a day commits suicide with a gun in Oregon.

Firearm owners are not more suicidal than non-firearm owners; rather, their suicide attempts are more likely to be fatal. If highly lethal means are made less available to impulsive attempters and they substitute less lethal means, or temporarily postpone their attempt, their survival odds greatly increase. Studies in a variety of countries have indicated that when access to a highly lethal and leading suicide method is reduced, the overall suicide rate drops driven by a drop in the restricted method.

Did you know?

  • Firearms used in youth suicide usually belong to a parent. 1
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among persons 10-24 years of age in Oregon in 2013. 2
  • The suicide rate among Oregon veterans 18-24 years of age was 85.9 per 100,000 in 2013— almost ten times higher than the state average rate for the same age group of non-veterans.  
  • Firearms were involved in most suicides (52%), followed by hanging (34%).
  • Many suicide attempts occur with little planning during a short-term crisis.
  • 90% of attempters who survive do NOT go on to die by suicide later.
  • Reducing access to lethal means like guns saves lives. 3

Are you a teacher? Learn the signs of suicide and what you can do to prevent a tragedy. Read the Oregon Health Authority’s informational page “What Every Teacher Should Know” or download the brochure.

The Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation partners with Lines for Life and the Oregon Youth Suicide Prevention Program.

For more information: Oregon Violent Death Reporting System, Oregon Injury and Violence Prevention Program: Data Contact: Xun Shen, Suicide 83% Homicide 13% Legal intervention 2% Unintentional shooting 1% Undetermined shooting 1% Firearm Fatalities by Intent, Oregon, 2010-2014 (N=2,280)