In a data analysis conducted by the Violence Policy Center (VPC), Kentucky ranked No. 10 for states with the highest gun suicide rates.
The VPC analysis said states with weak gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the highest gun suicide rates in the nation.
Montana ranked No. 1 followed by Alaska, Wyoming, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The states had the following gun ownership rates: Montana (67.5 percent); Alaska (56.4 percent); Wyoming (73.8 percent); Oklahoma (46.7 percent); and West Virginia (57.6 percent).
Kentucky had a gun suicide rate of 11.16, which was well above the national rate of 7.10. In total, 37 states had a higher rate than the national rate. There was no information on Kentucky’s gun ownerships rates.
“In many of these states, residents would be shocked to learn that they have the highest gun suicide rates in the nation, the most common type of gun death we see across America," said VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. "Firearms are the key factor in whether a suicide attempt is completed or not. Reducing access to firearms is a critical step in addressing this clear public health threat."
The VPC analysis defined states with “weak” 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.
States with “strong” gun violence prevention laws were defined as "those that add significant state regulation that is absent from federal law," such as restricting access to particularly hazardous and deadly types of firearms (for example, assault weapons), setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and restricting the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public.
The analysis said states with the lowest gun suicide rates have lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation. The five states with the lowest gun suicide rates were New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii and Connecticut.
Gun ownership rates among those states were: Connecticut (22.2 percent); Hawaii (12.5 percent); New York (22.2 percent); Massachusetts (14.3 percent); and New Jersey (17.4 percent).
The total number of Americans killed in gun suicides increased to 22,938 in 2016 from 22,018 in 2015. The nationwide gun suicide rate in 2016 was 7.10 per 100,000, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2015’s gun suicide rate of 6.86 per 100,000.
The 2016 data came from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Wendy Holdren contributed to this story.
Jonathan Greene is the editor of The Register; follow him on Twitter @jgreeneRR.