Guns and Suicide Prevention

The Crisis

Suicide accounts for 56% of the nearly 40,000 gun-related deaths in America each year1. Moreover, half of the 48,000 suicides in the US each year are firearms-related2.

While suicide rates have been steadily rising in the United States since 20003, the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment crisis, and associated surges in mental health challenges are sounding alarms of projected spikes in suicides4.

Convergence Dialogue Established

Convergence first began exploring a Dialogue related to guns in 2019. Through a thorough assessment involving informational interviews with 125 people from a range of perspectives, we were able to discern that the current national conversation on guns in America is often counter-productive, failing to yield solutions across opposing perspectives. Many of the 44%5 of Americans who live in households that own firearms feel misunderstood, while those proposing reforms related to guns feel similarly caricatured. We believe that the well-established Convergence dialogue process can break through this impasse.

We took time to map the diversity of perspectives on the issue of gun ownership and reducing gun-related deaths, and to construct a frame through which to tackle the issue. In September 2020, Convergence commenced a Dialogue on Guns and Suicide Prevention. We have assembled participants with broad and deep expertise, representing widely divergent views on firearms issues, ranging from gun rights advocates to leading groups working on gun violence prevention as well as researchers and those with a public health background. Many say they have never been at a table with sustained engagement among leaders of such diverse perspectives.

The group has begun its work by seeking to build a deeper understanding of gun ownership, and by considering existing and potential solutions to prevent firearm suicide. Participants are delving deeply into suicide data, including the risk factors and suicide rates within different high-risk demographic groups, including veterans, African American youth, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and the LGBTQ+ community.

As the work continues, we believe Convergence can engage the wide range of stakeholders in a solutions-oriented approach while continuing to honor and learn from the important work led by advocates, survivors and many others who have been interviewed and will actively participate in our project.

We will continue to update this page as the work progresses.


Sources

1https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/
2https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm referencing National Vital Statistics System – Mortality Data (2018) via CDC WONDER
3https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/01/numbers
4https://www.psypost.org/2020/07/suicide-rate-projected-to-increase-as-unemployment-jumps-from-coronavirus-outbreak-57210 referencing
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wps.20767
5https://news.gallup.com/poll/264932/percentage-americans-own-guns.aspx