Firearm Suicides

Deaths due to firearm suicide per 100,000 population

  • New Jersey State Health Assessment
  • Multiple Cause of Death Data, National Vital Statistics System, National Center for Health Statistic
Calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2020, 5 year estimate.
Dashboard-City Average

How do we measure firearm-related suicides?

Firearm-related death is a leading cause of premature deaths in the U.S.,1 and suicides make up 60% of these deaths.2 Firearm-related suicide rates are highest among people 45 and older, and especially among people older than 65. Men are seven times more likely to commit suicide by firearm than women, and non-Hispanic Whites and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Natives are at highest risk of firearm-related suicides among major racial/ethnic groups.1 Economic stressors and traumatic events are risk factors for suicidal thoughts (ideation) and completed suicides among adults, including suicide by firearm. For example, the 2009 financial crisis was associated with a significant increase in both suicidal ideation and suicides among adults,3,4 and the COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with an increase in mental distress and suicidal ideation among U.S. adults.5

How do we measure firearm suicides?

This metric uses data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) to measure deaths from intentional self-harm by handgun discharge (ICD code: X72), intentional self-harm by rifle, shotgun, and larger firearm discharge (ICD code: X73), and intentional self-harm by other and unspecified firearm and gun discharge (ICD code: X74). Development of this metric was facilitated by supplemental funding from Everytown for Gun Safety

Strengths and Limitations

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

• NVSS includes comprehensive death records from all states and federal jurisdictions. It provides the most complete firearm-related suicide count,  compared to other available data sources.6,7

• This measure provides the most geographically granular, publicly available data for firearm-related suicides in cities.

• This metric is available broken down by race and ethnicity, which can help target resources and interventions for groups that historically have been underrepresented.

• This metric only captures suicides by firearms, not all suicides.

• Firearm-related injuries and disabilities (for example, from uncompleted suicide attempts) are not included in this metric. This metric does not represent the total public health burden of self-injury from firearms. 

• Data are suppressed in some cities because of low event counts.

• Race and ethnicity data are often collected using discrete options that may not account for all or multiple identities, leading to undercounting of those who are more likely to select “other.”


The firearm-related suicide rate is calculated by the following formula:

firearm suicide calculation

For more information on the calculation, please refer to the City Health Dashboard Technical Document.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from the Multiple Cause of Death Data from the National Vital Statistics System of the National Center for Health Statistics. Multi-year data are available for this metric. For more information, please refer to Using Multi-Year Data: Tips and Cautions.


  1. Fowler KA, Dahlberg LL, Haileyesus T, Annest JL. Firearm injuries in the United States. Preventive Medicine. 2015;79:5-14.

  2. Goldstick JE, Zeoli A, Mair C, Cunningham RM. US Firearm-Related Mortality: National, State, And Population Trends, 1999–2017. Health Affairs. 2019;38(10):1646-52.

  3. Olfson M, Blanco C, Wall M, Liu S-M, Saha TD, Pickering RP, et al. National Trends in Suicide Attempts Among Adults in the United States. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(11):1095-103.

  4. Chang SS, Stuckler D, Yip P, Gunnell D. Impact of 2008 global economic crisis on suicide: time trend study in 54 countries. BMJ. 2013;347:f5239.

  5. Czeisler M, Lane RI, Petrosky E, Wiley JF, Christensen A, Njai R, et al. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic - United States, June 24-30, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69(32):1049-57.

  6. Office of Justice Programs BoJS. The Nation’s Two Measures of Homicide. U.S. Department of Justice; 2014.

  7. Sondik EJ. Data on Gun Violence: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It? : Springer International Publishing; 2021. p. 15-24.

Last updated: July 26th, 2023