Single article

DOI: 10.47026/2413-4864-2022-3-85-98

Antonova N.D., Golenkov A.V.

The Impact of Firearms Availability on the Frequency of Homicides and Suicides

Keywords: firearms, suicide, homicide, epidemiology, mental disorders

The mortality of the population from external causes ranks third after circulatory diseases and oncological pathology. The purpose of the review is to study the prevalence of firearms in the regions of the world and its impact on the frequency of homicides and suicides (intentional external causes of death) in various socio-demographic groups of the population. The issue of allowing firearms is solved in different ways – from a ban on its storage, carrying and use among the population to free sale and wide circulation in a particular country. In general, there is a growing trend in the number of people owning firearms, including the Russian Federation and its subjects. Availability of firearms at home, as well as free access to their use (among police officers, military personnel, etc.) increases the risk of suicide in these population groups several times with lethal outcomes in 85–91% of cases. Although the murder rate has been declining in recent years in the world and Russia, the share of violent crimes involving firearms is increasing. The number of mass murders committed by young people (schoolchildren, students, military personnel, recently conscripted into the army), whose victims are primarily their peers, is growing. Both murders and suicides are many (3-9) times more likely to be committed by males of mature (able-bodied) age. People having previous criminal records for illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, possession of firearms and other misdeeds often turn out to be murderers, and persons with mental pathology – self-murderers. At this, murders with subsequent suicide are most often committed with the use of firearms. Legislative restrictions on trafficking in firearms contribute primarily to reducing mass murders, as well as to reducing its use as instruments of murder and suicide.


  1. Bogdanov C.B., Repetskaya A.L. Ubiistva v Rossii i SShA: sravnitel’nyi analiz kriminal’noi statistiki [Bogdanov S.V., Repetskaya A.L. Murders in Russia and the USA: a comparative analysis of criminal statistics]. Vserossiiskii kriminologicheskii zhurnal, 2009, no. 4, рр. 13–22.
  2. Vladykina T. Interv’yu chlena-korrespondenta RAN, professora A.V. Yurevicha «Rossiiskoi Gazete» [Interview with Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor A.V. Yurevich “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”]. Rossiiskaya gazeta, 2013, no. 278(6254). Available at:
  3. Golenkov A.V. Rasprostranennost’ i osobennosti postgomitsidnykh suitsidov na primere odnogo iz regionov Rossii [Prevalence and features of post-homicidal suicides on the example of one of the regions of Russia]. Psikhicheskoe zdorov’e, 2018, no. 2, рр. 9–13. DOI: 10.25557/2074-014X.2018.02.9-13.
  4. Golenkov A.V. Postgomitsidnye samoubiistva [Post-homicidal suicides]. Suitsidologiya, 2018, no. 3, рр. 3–15. DOI: 10.32878/suiciderus.18-09-03(32)-3-15.
  5. Golenkov A.V., Orlov F.V., Bulygina I.E., Deomidov E.S. Postgomitsidnye samoubiistva v Rossii [Post-homicidal suicides in Russia]. Suitsidologiya, 2019, no. 2, рр. 32–41. DOI: 10.32878/suiciderus.19-10-02(35)-32-41.
  6. Guk I.L. Kriminalisticheskaya kharakteristika ubiistv, sovershennykh s primeneniem ognestrel’nogo oruzhiya [Forensic characteristics of murders committed with the use of firearms]. Molodoi uchenyi, 2020, no. 11, pp. 93–97.
  7. Davydov D.G., Khlomov K.D. Massovye ubiistva v obrazovatel’nykh uchrezhdeniyakh: mekhanizmy, prichiny, profilaktika [Mass Murders in Educational Institutions: Mechanisms, Causes, Prevention]. Natsional’nyi psikhologicheskii zhurnal, 2018, no. 4, pp. 62–76. DOI: 10.11621/npj.2018.0406.
  8. Litvintsev S.V., Shamrei V.K., Fadeev A.S., Reznik A.M., Arbuzov A.L. O sostoyanii psikhiatricheskoi pomoshchi v Vooruzhennykh Silakh RF [On the state of psychiatric care in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation]. Voenno-meditsynskii zhurnal, 2003, no. 3, pp. 13–20.
  9. Ogandzhanov I. Za stvolom: osobennosti oruzheinykh zakonodatel’stv v raznykh stranakh mira [Behind the barrel: features of weapons legislation in different countries of the world]. Available at:
  10. Prestupnost’: ubiistva po stranam mira [Crime: murders by countries of the world]. Available at:
  11. Pushkareva A.I. Svobodnoe noshenie oruzhiya v Izraile – rezul’tat arabo-izrail’skogo konflikta ili probel v zakonodatel’stve [Free bearing of weapons in Israel – the result of the Arab-Israeli conflict or a gap in the legislation]. Voprosy rossiiskoi yustitsi, 2019, no. 2, pp. 187–192.
  12. Rozanov V.A. Samoubiistva v Vooruzhennykh silakh – suitsidologicheskii analiz [Suicide in the Armed Forces Suicidological Analysis]. Suitsidologiya, 2020, no. 11(4), pp. 56–75. DOI:
  13. Rossiiskii statisticheskii ezhegodnik. 2020: stat. sb. [Russian statistical yearbook. 2020: static compilation]. Moscow, 2020, 700 p.
  14. Ryzhkov A.A. Individual’no-psikhologicheskie prichiny vozniknoveniya suitsidal’nogo povedeniya v voennoi srede [Individual psychological causes of suicidal behavior in the military environment]. Mir nauki, kul’tury, obrazovaniya, 2019, no. 5, pp. 222–224.
  15. Taburtsa V.A., Nikiforov V.M. Faktory suitsidal’nogo povedeniya sotrudnikov organov vnutrennikh del [Factors of suicidal behavior of employees of internal affairs bodies]. Vestnik KRU MVD Rossii, 2014, no. 2, pp. 96–99.
  16. Ugarov A. Oruzheinye zakony strany Krokodila Dandi [Gun laws of the country of Crocodile Dundee]. Available at:
  17. Federal’nyi zakon «Ob oruzhii» ot 13.12.1996, № 150-FZ [Federal Law “On Weapons” of December 13, 1996 no. 150-FZ]. Available at:
  18. Federal’nyi zakon ot 28.06.2021 № 231-FZ “O vnesenii izmenenii v Federal’nyi zakon «Ob oruzhii» i otdel’nye zakonodatel’nye akty Rossiiskoi Federatsii” [Federal Law of June 28, 2021 no. 231-FZ “On Amendments to the Federal Law “On Weapons” and Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation”]. Available at: LAW_388483.
  19. Shcherbakova E.M. Smertnost’ ot ubiistv v mire v 2012 godu [Shcherbakova E.M. Mortality from homicide in the world in 2012]. Demoskop Weekly, 2014, no. 623–624. Available at:
  20. Buteau J., Lesage A.D., Kiely M.C. Homicide followed by suicide: a Quebec case series, 1988–1990. J. Psychiatry, 1993, vol. 38, pp. 552–556.
  21. Cohen D., Llorente M., Eisdorfer C. Homicide-suicide in older persons. Am. J. Psychiatry, 1998, vol. 155, pp. 390-396.
  22. Duquet N., Van Alstein M. Firearms and violent deaths in Europe. Flemish Peace Institute Brussels, Belgium, Brussels, 2015.
  23. GBD 2016 Causes of Death Collaborators. Global, regional, and national age-sex specific mortality for 264 causes of death, 1980–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet, 2017, vol. 14, pp. 151–210.
  24. Global Mortality From Firearms, 1990–2016. The Global Burden of Disease 2016 Injury Collaborators. JAMA, 2018, vol. 320, no. 8, pp. 792–814.
  25. Golenkov A., Large M., Nielssen O., Tsymbalova A. Homicide and mental disorder in a region with a high homicide rate. Asian J. Psychiatry, 2016, vol. 23, pp. 87–92. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajp.2016.07.015.
  26. Hohl B.C., Wiley S., Wiebe D.J., Culyba A.J., Drake R., Branas C.C. Association of drug and alcohol use with adolescent firearm homicide at individual, family, and neighborhood levels. JAMA Intern. Med., 2017, vol. 177, no. 3, pp. 317–324. DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8180.
  27. Ivey-Stephenson A.Z., Crosby A.E., Jack S.P., Haileyesus T., Kresnow-Sedacca M. Suicide Trends Among and Within Urbanization Levels by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, Age Group, and Mechanism of Death – United States, 2001–2015. MMWR Surveill Summ., 2017, 66 (N. SS-18), pp. 1–16. DOI: icon.
  28. Knoll J.L., Annas G.D. Mass Shootings and Mental Illness. In Gun Violence and Mental Illness. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2016, pp. 81–84.
  29. Koziol-McLain J., Webster D., McFarlane J., Block C.R., Ulrich Y., Glass N., Campbell J.C. Risk factors for femicide-suicide in abusive relationships: results from a multisite case control study. Violence Victims, 2006, vol. 21, pp. 3–21.
  30. Liem M., Barber C, Markwalder N., Killias M, Nieuwbeerta P. Homicide–suicide and other violent deaths: An international comparison. Forensic Science Int., 2010, 15, vol. 207, no. 1-3, pp. 70–76. DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.09.003.
  31. Marzuk P.M., Tardiff K., Hirsch C.S. The epidemiology of murder–suicide. JAMA, 1992, vol. 267, pp. 3179–3183.
  32. Meloy J.R., Hoffman J., Guldimann A., James D.V. The role of warning behaviors in threat assessment: an exploration and suggested typology. Sci. Law, 2011, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 256–279.
  33. Panczak R., Geissbilhler M., Zwahlen M., Killias M., Tal K., Egger M. Homicide-suicides compared to homicides and suicides: systematic review and meta-analysis. Forensic Sci. Int., 2013, vol. 233, no. 1–3, pp. 28–36. DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.08.017.
  34. Park S., Ahn M.H., Lee A. Hong J.P. Associations between changes in the pattern of suicide methods and rates in Korea, the US, and Finland. Int. J. Ment. Health Syst., 2014, vol. 22, no. 8. DOI:
  35. Preventing suicide: a global imperative. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2014. Available at:
  36. Reeping P.M., Cerda M., Kalesan B., Wiebe D.J., Galea S., Branas C.C. State gun laws, gun ownership, and mass shootings in the US: cross sectional time series. BMJ, 2019, vol. 364, l542. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.l542.
  37. Satoh F., Osawa M. Trend of homicide-suicide in Kanagawa Prefecture (Japan): Comparison with western countries. Sci. Law, 2016, Oct. 3. 0025802416668769. DOI: 10.1177/0025802416668769.
  38. Siegel M., Rothman E.F. Firearm Ownership and Suicide Rates Among US Men and Women, 1981–2013. J. Public Health, 2016, vol. 106, no 7, pp. 1316–1322. DOI:
  39. Stack S. Homicide followed by suicide: An analysis of Chicago data. Criminology, 1997, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 435–453.
  40. Suicide Rate by country 2021. Available at:
  41. Swanson J.W., McGinty E. E., Fazel S., Mays V.M. Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy. Annals Epidem., 2015, vol. 25, pp. 366–376. DOI: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.004.
  42. The truth about suicide and guns. USA: Brady Center, 2019. Available at:

About authors

Antonova Nina D.
Resident, Department of Psychiatry, Medical Psychology and Neurology, Chuvash State University, Russia, Cheboksary (; ORCID:
Golenkov Andrey V.
Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Medical Psychology and Neurology, Chuvash State University, Russia, Cheboksary (; ORCID:

Article link

Antonova N.D., Golenkov A.V. The Impact of Firearms Availability on the Frequency of Homicides and Suicides [Electronic resource] // Acta medica Eurasica. – 2022. – №3. P. 85-98. – URL: DOI: 10.47026/2413-4864-2022-3-85-98.