Racial Differences in the Characteristics of Firearm Suicide Decedents in the United States


School of Social Work, University of Michigan, 1080 South University, Box 64, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. E-mail: sjoe@umich.edu


Focusing on the reported growing use of firearms to complete suicide among African Americans, this article analyzes the 1993 National Mortality Followback Survey to examine the association of firearm suicide with race, education, geographic region, access to a firearm, depressive symptoms, and mental health service utilization on decedents aged 15 years and older. After controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical variables, the analysis indicates that African American men were twice as likely as White men to use a firearm to complete suicide. The findings suggest the importance for clinicians to screen for the presence of firearms in depressed African Americans and to reduce their access to firearms. In addition, clinicians, social workers, and public health professionals should consider racial differences in correlates of firearm suicide when designing prevention and intervention initiatives.