Harvard Study Confirms Link Between Guns and Suicide

A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that firearms are by far the most likely risk factor responsible for increased rates of suicide in gun-owning households. The study was published in this month’s edition of Epidemiologic Review, a major public health journal.

Harvard’s study is a systematic review of four influential studies on firearms suicide. Using what’s known as a bias formula, the researchers set out to determine whether there could be a significant risk factor for suicide that was missed by the earlier studies.

Matthew Miller, the study’s lead author told one media outlet, “This study is just one more piece of evidence that the causal connection between living in a home with a gun and being at higher risk of suicide is really strong.”

Psychiatric and substance abuse disorders are potent risk factors for suicide, but they aren’t more prevalent among gun owners. Individuals with mental illnesses or addictions are no more likely to possess guns than individuals without them, according to existing research. While gun-owning households do not experience a higher rate of suicide attempts, the risk of dying by suicide increases compared to a household that does not own a gun.

The relationship between suicide and owning a gun has been so strongly established that Miller compares doubters to tobacco companies in the 1950s, shortly after cigarettes had been found to cause lung cancer. Miller went on to state, “Guns stored locked and unloaded are slightly safer, but overall, people who live in homes with guns have three to five times the risk of dying by suicide compared to people who live in homes without guns. It’s a huge, huge risk factor.”

As a nation, we need to stop the increasing rate of suicide. While we hope that this report will inspire our elected officials, most of them will not read this report or are even aware of the situation. Please visit, call or email your legislators to let them know you care about the well being of Americans and that the issue of suicide by firearms is important to you.

If you need help on how to do this, contact us at info@ceasefirepa.org or call 215-923-3151.

If you want to read the report for yourself you can find it here.

Facing the truth about gun violence in PA