May 24, 2013

Suicides account for most gun deaths


Number of Americans who killed themselves with a gun in 2010.

Suicides by gun accounted for about six of every 10 firearm deaths in 2010 and just over half of all suicides, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the CDC began publishing data in 1981, gun suicides have outnumbered gun homicides. But as gun homicides have declined sharply in recent years, suicides have become a greater share of all firearm deaths: the 61% share in 2010 was the highest on record. That year there were 19,392 suicides by firearm compared to 11,078 homicides by gun (35% of all firearm deaths). The rest were accidents, police shootings and unknown causes.

SDT-2013-05-gun-crime-2-1In terms of both raw numbers and population rates, gun suicides have been on the rise in recent years, even as gun homicides have fallen. In 2010, the gun suicide rate was 6.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 3.6 per 100,000 for gun homicides.

At 87%, males are the vast majority of gun suicides. By age group, people 65 and older have the highest firearm suicide rate: 10.6 per 100,000 people. Read more

Category: Daily Number

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.

Leave a Comment


All comments must follow the Pew Research comment policy and will be moderated before posting.


  1. John Zaretzki5 months ago

    Guns are trouble, nothing but trouble. They have trouble written all over them. That’s all you need to know about them. If you want to be successful in life you must learn to avoid trouble. A word to the wise is sufficient.

  2. masoume.rezaei9 months ago

    iam student irain university kharazmi
    and attched investion about suicide .please helpe me recommend new variable therefore research..
    excuse me weak langue

  3. Gringo11 months ago

    Hmmmm—-why is it that the age group parameters used for compiling statistics regarding homicides for ‘children— includes people to age 25???–methinks they hardly be children at this age–and if the record keepers wanna be honest–how about a category for ‘gang bangers’!!!

    1. Michael7 months ago


      Once medical technology gave us the right tools (MRI, fMRI, etc.) researchers began using it to follow the development of the brain as children grow.

      Of the things we have learned since that opportunity arose, contrary to long-held beliefs about the human brain, part of the forebrain appears to die off with the onset of puberty, and only slowly rebuilds. This process is not completed until around the age of 25 or 26. In developmental terms, both physically and psychologically, we remain adolescent throughout that entire stretch of life.

      We can look at it as being one of four stages of psychological development possible in a long life. In early childhood we learn innately and build our fundamental understanding of how the world works.

      During adolescence, our brains backtrack: we lose a significant amount of our ability to recognized cause-and-effect. At that time in our lives we are far more likely to take chances than we would do during earlier or later stages of life. The brain is transforming itself from that intuitive learning process of early childhood to the mature analytical process that has enabled the remarkable technological innovations that set us apart from less mentally gifted species.

      Individuals still in the adolescent stage of brain growth are therefore more likely to make rash decisions when it comes to committing either homicide or suicide than mature adults. Crime statistics tend to support this change in behavior in society.

      I hope this addresses the questions you raised.

  4. Allen Morgan11 months ago

    Because of the huge amount of injuries and deaths related to vehicles, and vehicles are not a right protected by the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, no one should be able to drive or own vehicles. That argument is just as stupid as the arguments against the Second Amendment rights of owning and bearing guns.

    1. Jer7 months ago

      Vehicles are restricted to people over a certain age (that varies per state, but 16 is about the youngest), it requires driver’s education and a lengthy period of practice during the permit period. After that time, the potential driver takes a test that many fail, some even fail several times. When they pass, driving a car they themselves provide for the test, they are given a license. In order to drive a car, it requires insurance and regular inspection as well as registration.

      To use a gun? In some instances a short waiting period, but otherwise it is yours to use as you please.

      Slight difference.

      1. jim6 months ago

        Jer , you did not pay attention. The right to have a gun is protected in the Constitution while driving is not. BIG DIFFERENCE.

      2. Derron6 months ago

        Jer, you bring up a great point. All this formality around driving tests, license, etc., and yet more people are killed annually in car accidents than guns (homicide, suicide, and accident combined). Drunk people aren’t very good decision makers, or drivers, yet we accept the fact that thousands of people every year will die from drunk driving. When was the last time you had a drink? Supporting those big alcohol cronies trying to make $$ at the expense of American lives. Funny nobody from the left seems to care about those deaths.

  5. charles1 year ago

    I think this is an important statistic. There are around 30,000 gun related deaths of year, which is frankly ridiculous. Looking at that fact alone guns should be banned. However when it’s considered that almost 20,000 of those deaths are actually suicides guns seem much less dangerous.

    Personally I believe there is no rational for owning guns. A person is more likely to kill a family member than an intruder, the USA gun market is the major supplier of guns to Mexican cartels (increase the USA drug problem), citizen gun ownership will no longer stop a military take over (a riffle is not going to stop a drone attack).

    If citizens did not have access to guns people would be safer. People argue that guns don’t kill people, people kill people but ultimately people would have a much harder time killing people if there were no guns. Also the argument that people would still get guns is invalid (since all countries around the USA have strict gun regulations).

    Essentially there is no RATIONAL reason to own a gun except for sport. Also there is no need to have a gun with a large magazine (which leads to killing a lot of people very quickly) period.

    The second amendment is out of date and needs to be removed. Guns are bringing nothing to the table when people look at the good vs harm.

    1. Thomas Pain12 months ago

      “If citizens did not have access to guns people would be safer.”

      If every citizen had the physique of a 25 year old professional rugby player, I might consider the validity of your comment.

      However, you are overlooking the physical shortcomings of the average woman, the elderly and the otherwise infirm.

      1. Edwbiker3 months ago

        Yes Thomas, but you must see that Charles doesn’t care about the right of self defense. “Hey, let grandma take karate to defend herself.” “Besides the elderly make perfect victims so the criminals won’t attack the rest of us.”
        Some time take a moment to read about crimes against the elderly in “jolly old” England, where you DO NOT have the right to use lethal force to defend yourself under ANY circumstances. Scary.

    2. KWells10 months ago

      Alright Charles, let’s be “rational.”

      If you’re going to be rational, then there is no reason to limit large magazine sizes. The average amount of rounds fired in gun crime involving semiautomatic pistols (i.e. not revolvers) is 3.2 to 3.7.

      Handguns are by far the most used weapons in gun crime.

      So, tell me: How exactly do you plan on reducing gun crime and gun death by banning “large capacity” magazines?

      (Large Capacity in quotes because there is no justification for the number of rounds which make capacity “large”, just an arbitrary number passed off as common sense.)

      1. kenny6 months ago

        so KWells you think the the AR-15 assault rifle with the 90 round drum clip and the additional 6,000 rounds of ammo the Aurora theater shooter used is “Rational” ?? If the shooter only had his 2 Glock pistols that night far less people would have died or been injured. Period.

    3. John Javelle8 months ago

      There were over 33,000.00 traffic crash fatalities in the U.S. in 2013, should we also get rid of cars since they seem to be so dangerous? There are between 270,000,0001 to 310,000,000 firearms in the United States and over 250,000,000.00 cars in the U.S. Those numbers are comparable just as are the numbers of deaths attributed to each showing one does not represent a significantly superior risk to society. Most of that debate is not based on facts or reality, but on politics, beliefs and perception. It’s therefore pointless in my opinion to try to base gun control policies on statistics. I’m a police officer in Washington D.C. where the guns laws are tight but the courts very lenients with criminals who violate gun lawsm or any other laws for that matter. I live in Virginia where gun ownership laws are very liberal but where penalties for gun law violations are stiff. Last year there were 8 homicides in a county of 1.2 million people versus 103 homicides for a jurisdiction half that size. What do those number mean? To me it means that gun ownership has little to do with loss of life and crime in general. Gun ownership is a red herring, something that can be affected at the stroke of a pen by politicians, much easier than addressing the true roots of crime.

      1. kenny6 months ago

        but car accidents are just that, accidents. Lol. people use guns to kill on purpose. So, 33,000 people died in ACCIDENTAL car crashes, yet at the same time over 30,000 people died by guns on PURPOSE. Think about it!

        1. john5 months ago

          33,000 died by firearms but 60% were suicide. If someone wants to kill themselves they will find a way. My grandfather hung himself even though he had over 3 guns in the house. You make the comment that auto deaths are accidents but I could argue that drunk driving is murder. This is supported by people being prosecuted and sentenced.

        2. Ace1 month ago

          No, they aren’t ‘accidents’, that’s what we tell ourselves to absolve ourselves of blame. The fact of the matter is that if people were paying more attention to driving and less to their cell phone/radio/passenger/etc the vast majority of ‘accidents’ wouldn’t happen. An accident is “an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause.” All cause, may not be deliberate, but it’s only not apparent because you weren’t paying attention.

    4. Pete8 months ago

      Yes, there is a rational reason for owning weapons. To defend yourself and your family, as the law enforcement heads of several large American cities are advising citizens to do. There is no publicity from the liberal pussy media when a lawful gun owner defends himself or others using legally owned weapons, but one gun death caused by a person with an illegal weapon who is probably prohibited from owning is splashed all across the media as if 9/11 was happening again. If your home is ever invaded by several crackheads with guns or baseball bats, I don’t think you’ll be watching your family get beaten and think to yourself, I’m glad I don’t have a weapon. Oh, yeah, call 911. In some large cities, response time is about an hour. Good luck with that.

      1. shaun8 months ago

        Defend yourself you say. 35% of gun deaths are homicides. 80% of all homicides are done by someone who knows the victim. Think about it this way. 100 gun deaths of that: 60-62 kill themselves, 2-4 are killed by police or accidental shootings,etc., 7 are killed by strangers, 10 are done by acquaintances like your coworker, neighbour, etc. and 17-18 are killed by close friends, family, spouse, etc.

        So, essentially 7% are shot and killed by strangers. 93% are killed by loved ones, themselves, or accidentally. Hmmm. So you say you need a gun to protect you against yourself and your spouse or children. That makes sense, I guess.

    5. TED7 months ago

      Unfortunately those that commit suicide by gun are looking for a quick way to get it done….When Australia banned guns the suicide rate did not change, only suicide by gun changed… The things that have increased significantly are strong arm robbery, break ins and robbery, home invasions by gangs, gang rapes and overall gang violence, but I’m sure there’s absolutely no relationship. Oh, by the way the number of victims shooting criminals to save themselves has declined significantly……….!!

      1. VKil5 months ago

        You are wrong. Where do you get your “facts”? Fox news?

    6. kenny6 months ago

      I agree with what you say especially about the part of not having a gun would make it harder for people to kill each other. A gun can be fired in the spur of a moment such as in an argument, people lose their temper pull out the gun and “boom” -it’s over. If you had to use a knife you would have to get up close and personal with the person you are about to stab. might change your mind in the meantime. also with a gun many times people get so upset and “accidentally” claim to have shot someone. try that with a knife… what are they going to say? Oops i accidentally stabbed this person 9 times???

    7. jennifer6 months ago

      “If citizens did not have access to guns people would be safer.”
      Right…because criminals care about whether or not what they do is legal or acceptable. “Banning” guns only puts more power in the hands of people who already thumb their nose at the law.
      As for their being no “RATIONAL” reason to own a gun other than for sport, surely you jest. As a single female who lives alone, I believe “personal protection” is a perfectly rational reason. (As an aside, rape awareness and self defense programs teach women to NOT yell “rape!” if they are being assaulted by someone, because NO ONE CARES, and people will look away and walk on. Nice society we live in, eh?)
      My father has a very extensive collection of firearms, many of them being extremely rare and old. I guess there’s no rational reason for that, is there?

      As for the comment by “resetplz” below that claims “guns allow … people to do more harm to more people in less time,” so do butter knives, baseball bats, chainsaws, cars, hatchets, garden rakes, and MANY other things. I suppose banning everything that has the potential to be a weapon would be considered “intellectually honest” in your view??
      *much eye rolling*

      1. kenny6 months ago

        but chainsaws and cars and so on are made for other purposes, if they are abused then so be it. guns are made for only ONE true reason.

        1. john5 months ago

          Two, protection and hunting. More often than not the presence of a gun thwarts criminals. But no one hears about do they?

  6. resetplz1 year ago

    What the commenters here have evidently failed to understand is that guns make already violent, angry, or depressed individuals MORE deadly, to themselves and to others.

    In a violent culture, guns allow those people to do

    +MORE harm to
    +MORE people in
    +LESS time.

    If you don’t understand that, you’re not being intellectually honest.

    1. Bob1 year ago

      According to CDC statistics, 88,000 people a year die from alcohol related causes. How many people who are against guns because they kill support distillers and brewers, industries that causes far more carnage?

      1. Anthony1 year ago

        False comparison, people choose to drink themselves, people do not choose to have gun violence done to them (other than those suicide gun deaths mentioned above).

        1. Alex1 year ago

          But people don’t choose to be hit by drunk drivers.

          1. Dave1 year ago

            Yes but there aren’t 88,000 deaths by drunk drivers every year either. So there’s that.

          2. Tony4 months ago

            Around 11,000 to be exact. Roughly the same number as gun homicides.

        2. KWells10 months ago

          Too bad suicides make up 2/3 of gun deaths then.

      2. kenny6 months ago

        and I bet a lot of those 88,000 people were drunk with guns. :|

  7. Jim1 year ago

    If my doctor ever tells me that I have a one way cancer diagnosis I am not going to let any “I gotta feel good about myself no matter what” white liberal keep me from minimizing my pain via the cold steel option.

    Incidentally my insurance folks tell me that most of the suicides fit the above profile and that they probably account for three quarters or more of all gun deaths instead of the much cited 50% figure. Most policyholders realize that a life insurance policy doesn’t pay off on a suicide so in order to insure the family gets their survivor money the departee often resorts to incredible scenarios in order to defeat the inevitable insurance investigator’s efforts.

  8. hauk1 year ago

    Mass murders by firearm increased after the fed government passed the “least restrictive environment” law for the insane. According to statistics, 1 percent of the population is violently insane (homicidal?), yet we have less than .5 (half) total still in the asylums. Take into account that approximately 10% of the prison population would fall into that category of violently insane and that leaves well over a million nut cases running around loose. When you figure that many of them have not received any help, is it any surprise that mass murders occur? As for guns eliminating that, Jeff Daumer didn’t use a gun, neither did that construction company owner in Texas, who had 30+ bodies under his house, and those are just two that are known. Think all those missing teenagers are living happily up in the woods on some hippy commune? In addition, there is no obligation of law enforcement to protect any one individual, so sayeth the Supreme Court.

  9. hauk1 year ago

    Yep, and yet government tries to blame the deaths on guns. If there were no guns, slashed wrists, poison, hangings, etc, suicide by cop, kissing a moving semi truck, etc. would be used instead. Yet, government lists all firearm deaths as if they were deliberate and against other individuals, instead of self.

  10. Richard Kaczmarczyk2 years ago

    To the deluded gun mind, suicide, does not count as violence in society. If you do it to yourself, it is OK, self murder is an oxymoron.

    1. HerpDerp2 years ago

      “To the deluded gun mind” What the hell is this? Is that a book title?

      “suicide, does not count as violence in society” Well, violence is “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” If you notice that word, it’s intended for humans hurting other humans.

      This article is correct, self mutilation and self harm is suicide, but not all suicides are violent, drugs, poison, hanging, etc.

      We have a violent culture because of our philosophical values and materialism, you fail to make any convincing argument, whatsoever.

    2. JW2 years ago

      “Richard Kaczmarczyk • 1 week ago

      To the deluded gun mind, suicide, does not count as violence in society. If you do it to yourself, it is OK, self murder is an oxymoron.”

      You cry about guns because you’re afraid of being shot, be honest here.People who commit Suicide only harm themselves. But you want a big number to suit your agenda.

      1. DC2 years ago

        If you think that people who commit suicide only harm themselves, you must have no experience with suicide. Moreover, a caring society is concerned about people who are so troubled that they want to end their own life. Should we just ignore the problem of suicide in the military because no one is harmed by it? Do you think it does not damage our military and military families?

        1. Tony4 months ago

          Whatever I do with my own life does not concern you. Aren’t the leftists for drug legalization? What about the 500,000 tobacco deaths or 90,000 alcohol deaths? We don’t even force the most severe drug abusers and addicts to attend rehab.

          I will say it again. Suicide is a human right and it’s my own choice. Don’t you ever forcibly dictate what I do with my own body.

  11. Robert Stocker2 years ago

    Good morning.

    Perhaps the following new/current Millennium firearms safety/accident statistics research projects may be of interest to you:…

    Kind regards,

    Bob Stocker B.Eng.(Hons) QPSM NM
    Queensland, Australia