Violence, Guns, and Suicide in New Orleans: Results from a Qualitative Study of Recent Suicide Decedents*

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Many Americans own guns to protect themselves against other people, but there is evidence that both victimization and gun access increase suicide risk. We conducted qualitative interviews with informants of 17 suicide cases in New Orleans of the 60 who died between January 2015 and April 2016 to understand the relationship between past trauma, gun access and storage, and suicide. Nine cases had experienced a past trauma, including three who had recently had a family member killed by homicide. Eight died via firearm; of those, seven owned the guns they used to take their lives and stored them locked (but loaded) at home or in their cars. Preventing community violence and addressing its sequelae may be important for reducing suicides. A multi-pronged strategy consisting of policies, education, and marketing will likely be needed to address the risk of suicide conferred by gun access.

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