The Bay State has the lowest gun suicide rate in the country and the fourth lowest overall suicide rate, according to a new report that shows how states with lower rates of gun ownership and stronger gun laws have the lowest suicide rates.
On the other hand, states with the highest suicide rates have higher gun ownership rates and weaker gun violence prevention laws, the Violence Policy Center reported in its analysis of 2020 data from the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Massachusetts’ gun suicide rate in 2020 was the lowest for the entire U.S. — 1.94 gun suicides per 100,000 residents. That compares to the national gun suicide rate of 7.37 per 100,000.
The state in 2020 reported 134 gun suicides, which represented 22% of the Bay State’s 618 total suicides that year.
Massachusetts overall had the fourth lowest suicide rate of 8.96 suicides per 100,000 residents. The state with the lowest overall suicide rate in 2020 was New Jersey (7.64 suicides per 100,000 residents) with a gun suicide rate of 2.04 gun suicides per 100,000 residents.
New York ranked second lowest (overall suicide rate of 8.49 suicides per 100,000 residents) with a gun suicide rate of 2.39 gun suicides per 100,000 residents. Rhode Island ranked third lowest (overall suicide rate of 8.89 suicides per 100,000 residents) with a gun suicide rate of 2.84 gun suicides per 100,000 residents.
In each of these four states, guns were used in 32% or fewer of the suicides reported that year and all had a household gun ownership rate below 21%. Compared to the three states with the highest suicide rates (Wyoming, Alaska and Montana), each of these states has stronger gun violence prevention laws.
“Year after year, suicide leads our nation’s annual gun toll of more than 45,000 dead,” said Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “The unique lethality of firearms means that a suicide attempt with a gun, as compared to other, less lethal means, is far more likely to be completed.
“People who use a gun to kill themselves aren’t necessarily more suicidal, they just have the tragic misfortune of having the most lethal means available to them in their time of depression and turmoil,” Sugarmann added.
The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence noted that the Bay State has the fourth lowest suicide rate “in part due to our strong gun laws,” adding in a tweet, “Strong gun laws save lives.”