Firearm Suicide and a Substitution Effect
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CitationKearney, Christopher. 2017. Firearm Suicide and a Substitution Effect. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Medical School.
AbstractFirearm suicide remains a significant public health crisis in the United States, with more than twenty thousand deaths per year. There is significant variability in per capita rates across states, and previous research has shown a strong correlation between states with high rates of firearm ownership and more lax gun control legislation having higher rates of suicide. Opponents of such legislation have proposed that the effect of reductions in firearm suicides would be blunted by an increase in suicide from other methods. In this study, we utilize data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics on suicide mortality, demographic information from the US Census, firearm exposure information from the CDC’s Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, and state legislation Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to perform multiple linear regressions at the state-year level to assess this question for the aggregate population, and subgroups by age, sex, and race. Consistent with previous studies, we find that both higher rates of gun ownership and more lax legislation are associated with higher rates of both firearm suicide and overall suicide rates for all subgroups. The only group for which we identify a substitution effect, an increase in non-firearm suicides associated with more strict legislation and lower household firearm ownership rates, is for the over 65 population, likely reflecting the different underlying epidemiology of suicide in this population.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40621392