Suicide Must Be Addressed to Reduce Gun Violence in Washington State
Suicide is the leading cause of firearm death in Washington State. In 2014 alone, 545 individuals – 49% of all those who took their own lives – used a firearm. If we are to reduce the level of gun violence in Washington State, we tackle the challenge of suicide prevention head-on. Consider:
- Suicide accounts for nearly 80% of all firearm deaths in Washington, well above the national average of 60%.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death in our youth and young adults (ages 10-
34), and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth have higher suicide
attempts than the general population.
- Men are more than six times as likely to die than women by suicide with a firearm.
- Veterans are at higher risk of suicide compared to the general population of
- Two of the strongest predictors of suicide are mental illness and substance abuse.
- American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest suicide rate and gun-related
suicide rate of any racial or ethnic group in Washington.
We know that 90% of people who attempt suicide and survive never go on to attempt suicide again. Sadly, firearms are by far the most likely method to result in completed suicide attempts – to the tune of 51%. That’s why intervention in moments of extreme crisis is critical to suicide prevention.
“Suicide is a preventable public health problem, not a personal weakness or family failure.” – Statewide Plan for Suicide Prevention
Washington State: Taking a Public Health Approach to Suicide Prevention
Washington State is demonstrating how approaching firearm suicide as a public health challenge can revolutionize the approach to this complex challenge. In addition to the creation of the Statewide Plan for Suicide Prevention, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order requiring state agencies to implement the Statewide Plan’s recommendations, targeting the most affected communities.
The renewed energy around suicide prevention led to legislation in 2016, with the passage of the House Bill 2793, creating the Safer Homes Task Force. The Alliance for Gun Responsibility is proud to be among the diverse group of partners and advocates that came together to help shape both the Statewide Plan for Suicide Prevention and House Bill 2793. These actions represent new steps on the long press to addressing suicide in Washington State.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours a day, seven
days a week), at 800-273-8255. Press 1 for the Veterans Helpline. If you’re
under 21, you can ask to talk to a peer at Teen Link.
- Lifeline Crisis Chat
or the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
- Download the My3 App from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can use the app to list your crisis contacts, make
a safety plan and use emergency resources.