The conversation about suicides in the U.S. needs to include guns. Here's why.

Not all suicides are completed with a gun — but in the U.S., most are.

Each time a high-profile celebrity dies by suicide, we seem to start a fresh conversation about suicide statistics in America.

In half of U.S. states, suicide rates have climbed 30% or more in the past two decades. Only Nevada saw a decline during that time — a mere 1%, which still puts the state higher than the national average.


Questions of why and what we can do about suicide dominate, leading to discussions revolving around mental health stigma and access to mental health care. And, indeed, those are vital pieces of the puzzle.

But there's another piece we don't talk about enough. If we want to reduce suicide statistics, we have to include the most common and lethal means of suicide in the U.S.: self-inflicted gunshot.

Research shows that when it comes to suicide, method matters. And firearm is by far the most deadly.

In some ways, focusing on a handful of celebrity suicides distracts from the research on U.S. suicide rates overall.

While we can't always know why Americans die by suicide, we do know how: Suicide by firearm kills more people than all other suicide methods combined. And while women are three times more likely to attempt suicide than men, men are four times as likely to die by suicide as women.

Why the discrepancy? All signs point to the fact that men tend to choose more violent and lethal methods of suicide.

And guns are by far the most lethal means. Of non-firearm suicide attempts, about 90% are unsuccessful, while about 90% of firearm suicides are successful. That makes access to guns a prime factor in suicide risk.

Many suicides are actually impulsive acts. That matters too.

One thing that gets missed in our discourse on suicide is that while some suicide attempts are a culmination of years of internal struggle with mental illness, many — and perhaps most — are not.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, one-third to four-fifths of people who attempt suicide are reacting to a current major stressor, not taking a long-premeditated action.

But suicide by firearm doesn't afford people a chance to change their mind or get a second chance. Most people who attempt suicide don't really want to end their lives; they want to end their pain. A gun allows a suicidal person to take split-second action, whereas most other means allow a person to stop mid-attempt or for another person to intervene.

While we're addressing how to prevent suicidal ideation, we need to consider easy access to the most lethal means of suicide.

Research shows that having access to a gun drastically increases the likelihood of a successful suicide attempt.

According to a Harvard University analysis, states with the highest rates of gun ownership had rates of gun suicide 3.7 times higher for men and 7.9 times higher for women than those with lowest gun ownership. Other methods of suicide were about equal.

For all demographics, the easier guns are to access, the higher the risk of completed suicide.

And it's not because gun owners are more suicidal. Catherine Barber, director of the suicide prevention effort Means Matter, said:

"When we compared people in gun-owning households to people not in gun-owning households, there was no difference in terms of rates of mental illness or in terms of the proportion saying that they had seriously considered suicide. Actually, among gun owners, a smaller proportion say that they had attempted suicide. So it's not that gun owners are more suicidal. It's that they're more likely to die in the event that they become suicidal, because they are using a gun."

In light of the facts, we clearly need to do more to curb access to guns for people at risk for suicide.

If we're serious about suicide prevention in the U.S., we have to include gun control in the conversation.

And conversely, if we're serious about reducing our gun death rate, we need to include suicide in our discussions. In the U.S., the statistics are strongly linked, a fact we shouldn't overlook.  

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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