U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Gun Violence: Making Connections with Suicide, Domestic Violence, and Substance Abuse

NCJ Number
Date Published
15 pages
This document provides information about the links between suicide, domestic violence, substance abuse, and gun violence.
In 1999, a total of 28,874 persons died in the United States from firearm injuries; approximately 180,000 were injured. From 1993-1999, firearm-related fatalities dropped by more than 10,000 as the result of intervention such as more effective gun control laws, better community violence prevention strategies, and increased law enforcement activity. Suicide and gun violence are closely related. Sixty percent of suicide deaths involve a firearm. Studies suggest that more suicides can be prevented in homes where there is a depressed individual if there is knowledge about the dangers of guns in the home; firearms are removed; firearms are stored securely; and guns are better regulated and have more effective safety features. Most gun deaths are suicides, not homicides. The risk of suicide is increased by nearly five times in homes with guns. Guns are used in most suicides of women and older Americans, and in two of three youth suicides. Purchasing a gun for self-protection does not lead to enhanced personal safety. Firearms increase the lethality of violent interactions between family members. They profoundly affect the dynamics of domestic violence: they are used to intimidate, frighten, maim, and kill. Guns are often used in crimes such as burglary, theft, and robbery, which are committed to support drug addictions. When people that are drunk or influenced by other drugs have access to a firearm, the combination can be deadly. Some ways to take action to address gun violence are to elect policymakers that support gun control; publicly express opinions about the social problems created by gun violence; form a coalition or working group; use local data to highlight health problems in the community; and create a policy panel to address the correlation between gun violence and other social problems.