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Firearm Suicide Among Older Women in the U.S.

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Publication Date: January 1997

Publisher(s): Social Science and Medicine

Author(s): M.S. Kaplan; M.E. Adamek; O. Geling; A. Calderon


Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation


Keywords: suicide; older women; firearms

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Contrary to the common view that older women in the United States use suicide methods that have relatively low potential for death, firearms have become the most common suicide method in this group. This study examines the association between demographic and geographic factors and the use of firearms versus other suicide methods.

Results indicate that among white women 65 and over who died by suicide in 1989–1991, the risk of using firearms varied significantly across demographic and geographic subcategories of the population. Women were significantly more likely associated with the use of firearms as a suicide method if they were ages 65–74, married, of lower educational attainment, in nonmetropolitan areas, and in the South. The study finds that more research is needed to assess the effects of limiting firearms on the growing proportion of firearm-related suicides among older women.