Adolescent suicide by firearms reaches 12-year high

Suicide by firearm among American adolescents has reached a 12-year peak, its highest level since 2001, according to the latest fatal injury data <> from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2013, suicide by firearm claimed 876 lives among adolescents ages 10 to 19, an increase for the third consecutive year.

This upward trend in adolescent suicide is not limited to firearms, according to The Truth About Kids & Guns: 2015, a new report from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence that analyzes the latest CDC data. Between 2007 and 2013, the overall suicide rate among adolescents ages 10 to 19 increased 34 percent, from 3.77 to 5.05 per 100,000 population. In 2013, suicide surpassed homicide to become the second leading cause of death among children and teens.

Research shows that most of these youth suicides (82%) occur with a gun belonging to a family member, usually a parent. The same trend holds true with unintentional shootings and even school shootings.  Most involve a gun taken from a parent or family member. 

 Dan Gross, President of the Brady Center, stated: “Millions of Americans have a gun in their homes thinking that it makes their family safer, but every day in our nation, dozens of these families learn just how dangerous and tragic that miscalculation can be. The bottom line is: having a gun in the home dramatically increases the danger that a child will be shot and killed.

“This is the third year in a row we’ve seen a rise in the rate of adolescent suicide by gun, and it’s usually a parent’s gun. The same holds true for preventable accidents and school shootings, including the tragedy at Sandy Hook. It’s usually a gun that belonged to a parent or a relative.

“Every day, 48 children are wounded or killed by gunfire. One of the most significant ways we can address this serious public health and safety issue is to educate parents about the risks of unsafe access to guns in the home. Parents are the first line of defense against gun violence, so we all need to realize the risks and take the appropriate steps to make sure our kids do not have unsafe access to guns.”

The Brady Center’s analysis of the latest CDC fatal injury data shows:

  • States with the most gun deaths (Alaska, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Wyoming) had high rates of gun ownership. Conversely, states with the fewest gun deaths (Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island) had low rates of gun ownership.
  • In 2013, firearm-related injuries were the second most common cause of death for children and teens ages 1-19. Only motor vehicles were responsible for more deaths among this age group.
  • Following a decrease in 2012, the unintentional gun death rate for children and teens rose 15% in 2013.

To read The Truth About Kids & Guns: 2015, a report detailing Brady’s analysis of the most recent CDC fatal injury data, visit <> . To learn how to protect your family and reduce suicide risk, visit

The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America that will lead to a dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries. For more insight on gun violence prevention, follow us on Facebook at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence  <> and Twitter @BradyBuzz.