When people across the country think of gun violence, foremost in nearly everyone’s minds are mass shootings such as that at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. A close second are homicides committed with guns, particularly occurring in our biggest cities and disproportionately affecting the poor and minority members of our society. Almost as an afterthought, people think about guns and suicide.
The facts, however, tell another story. In 2012, the last year for which data are available, 20 666 of the 33 563 firearm deaths were suicides, far outnumbering the 12 093 homicides.1 Suicide is in many ways the oft-ignored part of gun tragedy in America, the part that few talk about, especially those who resist any efforts to decrease access to guns.