WYOMING – A report released recently by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) ranked Wyoming as having the third highest suicide-by-gun rate in the nation.
Data compiled from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control for 2016 reveals that states with weak gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the highest gun suicide rates in the nation, according to a VPC analysis.
The study found Wyoming had more firearms per household than any state (73.8%)—a main reason why the Cowboy State ranked third behind only Montana and Alaska for gun suicides, said VPC legislative director Kristen Rand.
“In many of these states, residents would be shocked to learn that they have the highest gun suicide rates in the nation, the most common type of gun death we see across America,” Rand said. “Firearms are the key factor in whether a suicide attempt is completed or not. Reducing access to firearms is a critical step in addressing this clear public health threat.”
By contrast, states with the lowest gun suicide rates had lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation. New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York ranked at the bottom for gun suicide rate.
According to VPC’s analysis of the numbers, the total number of Americans killed in gun suicides increased to 22,938 in 2016 from 22,018 in 2015. The nationwide gun suicide rate in 2016 was 7.10 per 100,000, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2015’s gun suicide rate of 6.86 per 100,000. Wyoming’s rate was 14.86 per 100,000.
According to the VPC’s updated Guns and Suicide fact sheet in 2016 there were 44,965 suicides in the United States: 123 suicides per day; one suicide every 11.7 minutes. A firearm was used in more than half (51 percent) of the 44,965 deaths. For middle-aged adults, the suicide rate is increasing. From 1999 to 2016, the suicide rate for men aged 35 to 64 increased 30.9 percent. For women in that age group the rate increased 52.8 percent.
Violence Policy Center is founded by Josh Sugarmann. The nonprofit is known mainly for its in-depth research on the firearms industry, the causes and effects of gun violence, and the advocacy of regulatory policies to reduce gun violence. The VPC advocates for gun control legislation and policy.