The suicide of a friend of family member is always a great tragedy. Scientists now think that there might be a “suicide gene” that is handed down in our DNA. Despite this, there is one sure way to help prevent suicides: keep guns out of the house.

A new study has found evidence that a genetic tendency toward suicide has been linked to a particular area of the genome on chromosome 2 that has been implicated in two additional recent studies of attempted suicide. Psychiatrist Virginia Willour says, “We’re hoping our findings will eventually lead to tests that can identify those at high risk for attempting suicide.”

And in the first nationally representative study to examine the relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and state level rates of suicide in the US, researchers found that suicide rates among children, women and men of all ages are higher in states where more households have guns. Health policy expert Matthew Miller says, “We found that where there are more guns, there are more suicides.”

A recent poll shows that gun ownership in the United States has declined in the past 30 years, from a high of about 55% in the mid-1970s to 35% percent. More people support tight regulation of firearms: 91% support making it illegal to use guns while under the influence of alcohol; 85% want the sale of 50-caliber rifles limited, and 82% want the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons limited. Around 80% of people surveyed also strongly support requiring a police permit before a gun could be purchased.

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Anne Strieber knows this tragedy first hand: her mother killed herself when Anne was a young girl (but she came back, when Anne was in the hospital, as her favorite cat!)

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