Tough gun and violence prevention laws are keeping New Jersey and New York residents safer – from themselves.
That’s according to a new analysis from the Violence Policy Center, which looked at 2020 suicide data, along with gun ownership and violence prevention laws across the country.
The Garden State had the nation's lowest suicide rate — 7.64 suicides per 100,000 people. Next was New York, with 8.49, followed by Rhode Island, with 8.89.
The three states also have some of the nation’s lowest gun ownership rates and “stronger” violence prevention laws, according to the analysis by the VPC, which works to stop gun deaths and injuries, including through research and education campaigns.
The states with the highest suicide rates were Wyoming, with 31.25 suicides per 100,000 people, followed by Alaska and Montana, with 27.9 and 27.76, respectively. They have the nation’s highest gun ownership rates and its weakest violence prevention laws, according to the VPC.
“Year after year, suicide leads our nation’s annual gun toll of more than 45,000 dead,” VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann said in a statement announcing the findings. “The unique lethality of firearms means that a suicide attempt with a gun, as compared to other, less lethal means, is far more likely to be completed.”
In 2020, there were nearly 45,976 suicides in the U.S.; with a firearm used in more than half — 24,292, according to the VPC.
That same year, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, the firearm homicide rate increased 35%, reaching its highest level since 1994, while the firearm suicide rate remained “level overall,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May.
The VPC defined states with “weaker” gun violence prevention laws as “those that add little or nothing to federal law and have permissive laws governing the open or concealed carrying of firearms in public.”
In July, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key revisions of New York’s gun law, making it easier to secure a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public. New York quickly followed with a law that makes more public spaces — including Times Square, the subway system, and parks — off-limits to firearms, even to concealed-carry permit holders.