Research Finds Kids at Risk of Suicide Have Access to Guns

May 2013

Dallas, TX suicide lawyer Skip Simpson knows that those who use a gun in a suicide attempt are much more likely to be effective than those who try to kill themselves via other methods. This is why it is especially alarming that new research shows many kids considering suicide have access to guns in the home.

As NBC News reports, researchers have found that as many as one in five kids who is at risk of suicide lives in a home where guns are accessible. It is very important that parents and mental health professionals watch for signs of suicide when there are guns in the home in order to ensure that kids are not put at risk.

Access to Guns Dangerous for Suicidal Teens

Suicide is the number three cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24. In some states like Washington number 2 cause. Each year, around 4,600 kids die by suicide, with 45 percent of those kids using guns in their suicides.

Unfortunately, when a young adult attempts to use a gun to die by suicide, this is much more likely to result in death than other methods. People who use pills or who cut themselves are successful in actually killing themselves only three percent of the time, in large part because these methods take a longer time to work and are harder to accomplish.

A gun, on the other hand, can result in instant death or grave injury.  This is why almost half of all successful completed suicides were done with a firearm.

With young adults at greater risk for suicide and with guns the most lethal suicide method, the high number of suicidal teens with access to guns is beyond disturbing.

The Research

The information on the number of teens with access to guns was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting. Researchers obtained their data using simple questionnaires that were handed out to kids visiting emergency rooms. The results of the questions indicated that:

  • 29 percent of the kids who answered the question were at risk for suicide. Especially disturbing was the fact that one in ten kids who were at the emergency room for reasons other than psychiatric complaints were still found to be at risk of suicide.
  • 17 percent reported that there were guns in or around their homes.
  • 31 percent of kids who were at risk of suicide and who had guns in their homes knew how to access the guns and the same percentage knew where the bullets were kept.
  • 15 percent of suicidal teens knew where both the guns and the bullets were kept.

As this data shows, there are many kids who are potentially at risk of dying by suicide whose parents have guns in the home. Worse, a teen may be suicidal and parents may be unaware of this and thus not able to monitor the young person or make sure the guns are properly and securely stored.

It is essential that parents know when their kids are at risk of suicide in order to ensure that these young people cannot easily access guns. Of course young kids should never be able to easily access guns. Mental health professionals need to be on the lookout for signs of danger so they can let parents know when action needs to be taken to prevent a potential death-by-suicide.

The worn out quote by LaPierre that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun,” fails to address adults and children at risk for suicide who are not bad guys but people who are overwhelmed at the moment.

If you lost a loved  one to suicide, contact the Dallas Law Offices of Skip Simpson, dedicated to holding mental health counselors accountable. Call 214-618-8222.

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