Gun suicides account for 60% of American firearm deaths

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - There have been 93 homicides in Indianapolis so far this year as the city seems on a pace to beat last year’s deadly record.

77 of those victims died of gunfire.

Nationwide, suicide accounts for six out of ten of all gunfire deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control found that of 36,252 gunfire deaths in 2015, firearms suicide accounted for 22,018 fatal shootings.

That was one year after Matt Davis’ 18-year-old step-son Anthony Wilkerson took his own life with his father’s gun.

“It was a simple day in our household. There wasn’t anything that put off any alarms or any concerns. Anthony was Anthony. He was actually very joyful. Very happy that day,” said Davis. “I didn’t see it.”

After his boy’s death, Davis had the gun destroyed, but continues keeping firearms in a more secure safe in his home to this day.

“Firearm owners have to be responsible. I’m a firearm owner. You have to make sure that the ammunition and the device itself are in two separate locations and both locked up and not accessible to those with a mental health condition.”

Davis said Anthony found the key to his gun safe in 2014.

Today, he has a combination lock on his gun vault.

“It wasn’t the gun’s fault. It was mental health. It was depression. It was anxiety,” said Davis. “We feel like if he couldn’t have gotten ahold of the gun he would have figured out a different way.”

Suicide was the tenth leading cause of the loss of life in Indiana in 2016 and the second leading cause of death of state residents between the ages of 15 and 34.

At 8.91 suicides per 100,000 population, Indiana is 25th in the nation.

Davis and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention have taken the message of firearms safety to the Indy 1500 Gun & Knife Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

“People in general that I have talked to, especially at firearms shows, generally recognize that firearms is one of the leading causes of death when it comes to suicide,” said Davis. “They know that suicide prevention and firearms safety does not mean take your guns away from people.”

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence cites studies that indicate impulsivity and access to a firearm in a household, “makes suicide three times more likely.”

“I can see the warning signs now,” said Davis, “and I’m gonna kick myself for the rest of my life because I can recognize the warning signs that my son was giving me prior to dying.”

AFSP will hold its annual Out of the Darkness Walk September 15th at White River State Park.

If you or anyone you know may be experiencing a life threatening mental health crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.