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Study Shows Idaho, Other Rural States Have Far Higher Rates Of Gun Suicide

A recent study underscored the rural-urban divide when it comes to gun suicide. Idaho and several other Mountain West states have far higher rates than the national average.

A new study underscores disproportionately high firearm suicide rates in rural areas, including across Idaho.

The study, from gun control advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety, broke down the country by congressional districts. The highest rates were in districts with large rural populations in the West and South, including both of Idaho’s districts.

The rate of firearm suicide in Idaho’s districts is more than 13 per 100,000 people - nearly double the national rate.

The districts with higher suicide rates tend to have high rates of gun ownership, a correlation that has been borne out by research. 

J.P. Jameson, a psychologist who studies suicide at Appalachian State University said the findings underscore the importance of working with gun owners to encourage things like safe firearm storage. He also said it should be a wake-up call for anyone caring for an at-risk patient.

“We need to do a better job of training mental health professionals to be brave enough to ask about firearms access,” he said.

Follow Heath Druzin on Twitter, @HDruzin

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio

Heath Druzin was Boise State Public Radio’s Guns & America fellow from 2018-2020, during which he focused on extremist movements, suicide prevention and gun culture.