2019

Gun suicides: America's unseen public health crisis


Professor Dr. Jonathan Fielding addresses gun suicides. In 2017, 60 percent of the nearly 40,000 gun deaths in the United States were suicides.

The numbers confirm what we already know: We’re facing an increasing epidemic of gun deaths in America. 2017 was the most dangerous year yet: U.S. firearm deaths reached 39,773, their highest level in 40 years, increasing 16 percent from 2014. The overall number of gun deaths is often in the news, but the stark surprise for many will be that 60 percent of those nearly 40,000 gun deaths were suicides, 23,854. 

Though suicides are America’s largest firearm-related, public health problem, they’re not the most chronicled. That distinction belongs to homicides, which represented 36.5 percent (14,542) of total gun deaths. Accidental firearm discharges, shooting by law enforcement and mass shootings making up the remainder.

Tragically, our gun suicide rate is 10 times that of other high-income countries, and while we account for about 4 percent of the world’s population, we have 35 percent of the world’s gun suicides. Guns are used in 51 percent of American suicide deaths and suicide rates are higher in states with higher per-capita rates of gun ownership. Most suicide attempts are impulse driven in crises. In 90 percent of suicide attempts, survivors do not go on to die by suicide, but having access to a gun makes the equation deadly; 85 percent of gun suicide attempts end fatally, while less than 5 percent of non-firearm suicide attempts do. Firearms are the most lethal means of suicide in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

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Faculty Referenced by this Article

Dr. Jonathan Fielding
Jonathan Fielding
Health Policy and Management
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Nadereh Pourat
Nadereh Pourat
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Frederick Zimmerman
Frederick Zimmerman
Health Policy and Management
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Lori Pelliccioni
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Risha Gidwani
Risha Gidwani
Health Policy and Management
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Jody Heymann
Jody Heymann
Epidemiology Health Policy and Management
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Moira Inkelas
Moira Inkelas
Health Policy and Management
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Annette Maxwell
Health Policy and Management
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Neal Halfon
Health Policy and Management
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David Hayes-Bautista
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Felicia Hodge
Felicia Hodge
Health Policy and Management
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James Macinko
James Macinko

Professor of Community Health Sciences & Health Policy and Management, and Associate Dean for Research

Community Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Leah Vriesman
Leah Vriesman
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. William McCarthy
William J. McCarthy
Health Policy and Management
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Ron Andersen

Dr. Ron Andersen is the Wasserman Professor Emeritus in the UCLA Departments of Health Policy and Management.

Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Kenneth Wells
Kenneth Wells
Health Policy and Management
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Arlene Fink
Health Policy and Management
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Galper, Michael
Michael Galper
Health Policy and Management
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Michelle Keller
Michelle S. Keller

Dr. Michelle S. Keller is a health services researcher whose research focuses on the use and prescribing of high-risk medications.

Health Policy and Management
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Robert Kaplan
Robert Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Laura Erskine
Laura Erskine
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Yvonne Flores
Yvonne Flores
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Dylan Roby
Dylan Roby
Health Policy and Management
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Roshan Bastani
Health Policy and Management
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Alan Tomines
Health Policy and Management
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Jack Needleman
Jack Needleman
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. John Lu
Z. John Lu
Health Policy and Management
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Paul Chung
Paul Chung
Health Policy and Management
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Mark Litwin
Health Policy and Management
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Thomas D. Gordon
Health Policy and Management
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Michael Ong
Michael Ong
Health Policy and Management
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Brennan Spiegel
Health Policy and Management
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Jose J. Escarce
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Anthony Schiff
Anthony Hunter Schiff
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Lillian Gelberg
Lillian Gelberg
Health Policy and Management
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Robert Brook
Health Policy and Management
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Jeanne Miranda
Jeanne Miranda
Health Policy and Management
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Susan Ettner
Health Policy and Management
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Clifford Ko
Clifford Ko
Health Policy and Management
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Patricia Ganz
Patricia Ganz
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Beth Glenn
Beth Glenn
Health Policy and Management
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Emmeline Chuang
Health Policy and Management
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Gerald Kominski
Gerald Kominski
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Samuel Sessions
Samuel Sessions
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Aria Fallah
Aria Fallah
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Paul Fu, Jr.
Paul Fu, Jr.
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Joann Elmore
Joann G. Elmore
Health Policy and Management
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Barbara Berman
Health Policy and Management
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Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Health Policy and Management
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Jean Balgrosky
Health Policy and Management
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Burt Cowgill
Burt Cowgill
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Jennifer Wortham
Jennifer Wortham
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Ninez Ponce
Ninez Ponce
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Alice Kuo
Alice Kuo
Health Policy and Management
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Ty Robbins
Health Policy and Management
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Emily Abel
Emily Abel
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Kristen Choi
Kristen Choi
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Thomas Rice
Thomas Rice
Health Policy and Management
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Ron D. Hays
Ron D. Hays

@UCLA since 1997

Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Daniel Eisenberg
Health Policy and Management
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Vickie Mays
Vickie Mays
Health Policy and Management
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Avram Kaplan
Avram Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Mangione, C
Carol Mangione
Health Policy and Management
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Warren Scott Comulada
Warren Scott Comulada
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Naomi Zewde
Naomi Zewde
Health Policy and Management
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Freund, Deborah
Deborah Anne Freund
Health Policy and Management
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Olivia Jung
Olivia Jung
Health Policy and Management
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Aronberg, Sandra
Sandra Aronberg
Health Policy and Management
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Steven Teutsch
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Xi Zhu
Xi Zhu
Health Policy and Management
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Isomi Miake-Lye
Isomi Miake-Lye
Health Policy and Management
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Julie A. Elginer

EMPH Academic Program Director with expertise in healthcare marketing, finance, and reproductive health policy, teaching in the EMPH, MPH, MHA program

Health Policy and Management
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Comanor, Bill
William Comanor
Health Policy and Management
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Kadiyala, Srikanth
Srikanth Kadiyala
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Health Policy and Management
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Thomas Priselac
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Stephanie Taylor
Stephanie L. Taylor

Nationally recognized health services researcher and sociomedical scientist with 25+ years' experience in effectiveness and implementation research.

Health Policy and Management
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Corrina Moucheraud
Corrina Moucheraud
Health Policy and Management
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Rosenstock
Linda Rosenstock
Environmental Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Diana Hilberman
Diana Hilberman
Health Policy and Management
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Yusuke Tsugawa
Yusuke Tsugawa
Health Policy and Management
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Pamela Davidson
Health Policy and Management
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