Some Gun Laws Tied to Lower Suicide Rates

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Background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases are associated with lower suicide rates, a new study reports.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the national suicide rate is now 13 per 100,000, a 30-year high.

Researchers found that states with universal background checks had a decrease of 0.29 suicides per 100,000 people from 2013 to 2014. Those without such laws had an average increase of 0.85. There was a decrease of 0.38 per 100,000 in states with mandatory waiting periods, compared with an increase of 0.71 in states without them. States with both laws had a decrease of 0.76 per 100,000; states with neither had an increase of 1.04.

The results were unchanged after controlling for rates of gun ownership, depression, poverty and other factors.

The report, in the American Journal of Public Health, found no difference in year-to-year suicide rates between states with gun lock regulations or open carry restrictions and states without such laws.

The lead author, Michael D. Anestis, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi, pointed out that this is the effect of only two laws over a single year.

“The suicide rate has increased every single year since 2005,” he said. “That you can find any kind of decrease in this environment is monumental.”