Restriction of Access to Guns Reduces Suicide Rates

On May 18th, 2003, Switzerland in a referendum approved a reform of their army, which accounted for the changed security situation in Central Europe. With the reform (called Army XXI), especially a significant reduction in troop strength was connected. In 2003, Switzerland had approximately 400,000 soldiers, after the reform, their number halved to 200,000. The soldiers went into retirement earlier than before (at the age of 33 instead of 43 years), the number of recruits decreased, and the price of the weapon for which the soldiers traditionally could buy their weapon after their retirement increased. In addition, a firearms license was required. The reform had the consequence of a significant reduction in the number of available firearms in Switzerland.

Thomas Reisch from the Psychiatric University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues now report in The American Journal of Psychiatry on their investigation of the change in suicide rates in Switzerland after the army reform (Reisch et al., Am J Psychiatry 2013; 170:977-984). Continue reading