10 September - World Suicide Prevention Day
While we commemorate suicide prevention day, linkages between firearms and suicides are usually neglected. We can change this.
At least 459 people died by firearm suicides in the Western Balkans only in 2018 and 2019. Firearm suicides account for 64% of all firearm deaths in the region and are two times more frequent compared to firearm homicides.
Data collected through Armed Violence Monitoring Platform provides evidence about highly gendered nature of firearms suicides with men accounting for 97% of people who died by firearm suicides.
In addition, firearm suicides are also age related. Every second victim falls within 36 to 60 age group, followed by those aged 61 and older. In 2018 and 2019, 6% of all victims were underage and their access to firearms was directly linked to unsafe and inadequate firearms storage.
Yet, unlike homicides which catch public attention, firearm suicides are under-reported in media, under-researched, rarely publicly discussed and insufficiently addressed by public policies.
In order to reverse these trends, UNDP SEESAC is cooperating with governments in the region to improve availability of data and provide better understanding of linkages between suicides and firearms availability. Recently published SALW Surveys and Gender and Small Arms: Fast Facts aim to increase evidence base for policy making and initiate discussion about possible solutions.
In the meantime, first steps to address these issues have already been made. For instance, Small Arms Control Strategy of Montenegro envisages development of measures to address firearm suicides paving the way for more comprehensive and enhanced suicide prevention.