Firearms legislation and reductions in firearm-related suicide deaths in New Zealand

Authors

  • A. L. Beautrais,

  • D. M. Fergusson,

  • L. J. Horwood


  • D. M. Fergusson, L. J. Horwood,
    Christchurch Health and Development Study, Christchurch, New Zealand

Annette L. Beautrais (Correspondence)
Canterbury Suicide Project, Christchurch School of Medicine & Health Sciences, PO Box 4345, Christchurch, New Zealand. Email:suicide@chmeds.ac.nz

Abstract

Objective: To examine the impact of introducing more restrictive firearms legislation (Amendment to the Arms Act, 1992) in New Zealand on suicides involving firearms.

Method: National suicide data were examined for 8 years before, and 10 years following the introduction of the legislation.

Results: After legislation, the mean annual rate of firearm-related suicides decreased by 46% for the total population (p < 0.0001), 66% for youth (15–24 years; p < 0.0001) and 39% for adults (≥25 years; p < 0.01). The fraction of all suicides accounted for by firearm-related suicides also reduced for all three populations (p < 0.0001). However, the introduction of firearms legislation was not associated with reductions in overall rates of suicide for all three populations.

Conclusions: Following the introduction of legislation restricting ownership and access to firearms, firearm-related suicides significantly decreased, particularly among youth. Overall rates of youth suicide also decreased over this time but it is not possible to determine the extent to which this was accounted for by changes in firearms legislation or other causes.

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