West Virginia 5th in country in gun suicide rate

Published: May. 31, 2018 at 5:25 PM EDT
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West Virginia has the 5th highest gun suicide rate in the country, according to a Violence Policy Center analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

West Virginia’s rate is 13 per 100,000 people.

The number was calculated by dividing the number of gun suicide deaths by the total state population and multiplying the result by 100,000, in order to get the rate per 100,000.

The data is from 2016. The total number of Americans killed in gun suicides was 22,938 during that year. The nationwide gun suicide rate in 2016 was 7.10 per 100,000 people.

Tracy Tynan, a youth suicide intervention and prevention education specialist at Westbrook Health Services, said, “There a lot of studies coming out saying rural, white men are at high risk now for suicide because of the amount of guns that are accessible.”

She says it’s important for people to be pro-active in helping prevent suicide.

“What we're looking at is trying to get people to understand they need to ask the question look for the warning signs that someone's potentially thinking about suicide and then if they think that it's a possibility secure those lethal means whether it's securing medication or securing their guns.”

The Violence Policy Center’s analysis reveals states with the lowest gun suicide rates have lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the country. Montana had the highest gun suicide rate, while New Jersey had the lowest. Ohio ranked 31st.

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand said, “Firearms are the key factor in whether a suicide attempt is completed or not. Reducing access to firearms is a critical step in addressing this clear public health threat.”

For a list of gun suicide rates in all 50 states, visit the link in the Related Links section on the right side of the page.