Firearm Suicide: Use of a Firearm Injury and Death Surveillance System

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Abstract

Background:

Suicide is an important public health concern. Firearms are the most common mechanism of suicide death. This study describes the epidemiology of fatal and nonfatal firearm suicide injuries (FSI) in one metropolitan area from 2002 through 2004 using a firearm injury surveillance system.

Methods:

Records were obtained of all victims of firearm injuries from hospitals, police, and the coroner. All injuries categorized as suicide were included.

Results:

Local age adjusted suicide rates were significantly higher than state or national rates for ages 15 to 24, and significantly higher than national rates for ages 25 to 44. Men were FSI victims more than five times as often as women were. There was no seasonal pattern identified. Handguns were used nearly three out of four times. Eighty-six percent of FSI victims died, two-thirds at the scene. Most wounds were in the head or chest. Mental illness or relationship problems were common. Most suicides occurred in a residence.

Conclusions:

Community level firearm injury surveillance effectively identifies local trends that may differ from national statistics. Collaboration among various groups is used to support injury prevention programs. These data can both complement and contribute to national statistics.

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