A brand new examine from the Violence Prevention Analysis Program (VPRP) at UC Davis suggests machine studying, a kind of synthetic intelligence, could assist determine handgun purchasers who’re at excessive threat of suicide. It additionally recognized particular person and neighborhood traits which are predictive of firearm suicide. The examine was revealed in JAMA Community Open.

Earlier analysis has proven the danger of suicide is especially excessive instantly after buy, suggesting that acquisition itself is an indicator of elevated suicide threat.

Threat elements recognized by the algorithm to be predictive of firearm suicide included:

  • older age
  • first-time firearm purchaser
  • white race
  • dwelling in shut proximity to the gun supplier
  • buying a revolver

Whereas limiting entry to firearms amongst people at elevated threat for suicide presents a vital alternative to save lots of lives, precisely figuring out these in danger stays a key problem. Our outcomes counsel the potential utility of handgun information in figuring out high-risk people to help suicide prevention,” stated Hannah S. Laqueur, an assistant professor within the Division of Emergency Drugs and lead writer of the examine.

In 2020, virtually 48,000 Individuals died by suicide, of which greater than 24,000 have been firearm suicides. Firearms are by far the most deadly methodology of suicide. Entry to firearms has been recognized as a serious threat issue for suicide and is a potential focus for suicide prevention.

A bar graph showing numbers one through 20 indicating highest to lowest suicide risk.

Of the firearm purchases recognized by the algorithm as riskiest, virtually 40% have been related to a purchaser who later died by firearm suicide.


To see if an algorithm may determine gun purchasers vulnerable to firearm suicide, the researchers checked out information from virtually 5 million firearm transactions from the California Seller File of Sale database. The information, which spanned from 1996 to 2015, represented virtually two million people. Additionally they checked out firearm suicide information from California loss of life information between 1996 and 2016.

The crew generated 41 predictor variables from the transaction information. Amongst different information factors, the researchers checked out handgun classes (corresponding to a revolver or semiautomatic pistol), caliber measurement, worth, the place the gun was bought, the customer’s earlier gun purchases, gun purchases, gender, race and ethnicity, and age.

The researchers ran a random forest classification algorithm — which might generate predictions on a variety of knowledge. They used the transaction-level information to foretell firearm suicide inside one 12 months of buy.

Among the many high 5% of transactions recognized as essentially the most dangerous, near 40%, or 379 of 983, have been related to a purchaser who died by firearm suicide inside one 12 months.

Among the many very small variety of transactions with a random forest rating or predicted chance of 0.95 and above, 69%, or 24 of 35, have been affiliated with a purchaser who died by firearm suicide inside one 12 months.

A bar graph showing random forest scores from 0.90 to 1.00.
Amongst all transactions that scored a chance of .95 and above, 69% resulted in firearm suicide inside one 12 months. 

“Analysis has established a transparent and powerful affiliation between firearm acquisition and possession and firearm suicide threat, however this examine contributes to the rising proof that computational strategies can help within the identification of high-risk teams and the event of focused interventions,” Laqueur stated.

The researchers warning that the first-of-its-kind examine was largely “proof of idea.” Nonetheless, the outcomes counsel the potential of using handgun information in figuring out high-risk people to help suicide prevention. Additionally they famous that many firearm suicides occurred amongst people categorized as “low-risk,” so different types of intervention can be obligatory to stop firearm suicide on this group.

Extra authors of the examine embody Colette Smirniotis, Christopher McCort and Garen J. Wintemute from the VPRO and the California Firearm Violence Analysis Heart.

This examine was funded by Fund for a Safer Future (grant A19-2744) and the California Firearm Violence Analysis Heart.

Extra sources

The UC Davis Violence Prevention Analysis Program (VPRP) is a multi-disciplinary program of analysis and coverage improvement targeted on the causes, penalties and prevention of violence. Research assess firearm violence, the social situations that underlie violence, and the connections between violence, substance abuse and psychological sickness. VPRP is house to the California Firearm Violence Analysis Heart, which launched in 2017 with a $5 million appropriation from the state of California to conduct modern analysis on firearm violence and its prevention. For extra info, go to well being.ucdavis.edu/vprp/.


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