New research from BMJ.Com (British Medical Journal) published in July provided evidence that state policies that limited the sale of handguns to people aged 18 or older (relative to 21 or older) were associated with an increase in the suicide rate among adolescents aged 18 to 20 years of age. The paper, State handgun purchase age minimums in the US and adolescent suicide rates: regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences analyses, points out that there are more than 48 000 suicides in the United States based on 2018 data. It was an increase in the suicide rates for the 10th consecutive year, including among adolescents.
Adolescent suicides are now the most common cause of death after unintentional deaths. The research provides evidence that increased availability of guns is associated with increased deaths. In 2020 17 states had begun to limit gun sales to people 21 or older. The rest of the states had lower unlicensed sales to 18 to 21-year-olds. The research concluded:
“We found that policies restricting the sale of handguns to those aged 21 or older were associated with a reduction in suicide rates among adolescents. In our regression discontinuity analysis of deviations in age trends among adolescents aged 18 to 20 years, policies that limited the sale of handguns to those aged 18 or older were associated with an absolute increase in suicides at age 18 years and an increase in the slope of age trends in suicide. In this analysis, we estimated an excess of 344 suicides among adolescents aged 18 to 20 years in each state with a minimum age of 18 years, relative to 21 years, for the purchase of handguns.”