Guns have always been a part of life in the West. Forty-two percent of Utah residents own a gun, according to a 2017 Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll. The number of Utah women who own guns has surged in the last five years.

States in the Mountain West have some of the most permissive gun laws in the country. But many of these states struggle with the same problem: suicide. Utah has one of America’s lowest homicide rates and one of the highest suicide rates.

Nearly 90 percent of all gun deaths here are suicides – and half of suicides involve a gun. Nationwide, the number of suicides by gun is increasing. How do Western states square an affinity for guns with a rising suicide rate? And what can be done to save more lives?

Hear our show, recorded at KUER in Salt Lake City.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255

Crisis Text Line: 741741


  • Matt Canham Senior managing editor, Salt Lake Tribune; @mattcanham
  • Kim Myers Suicide prevention coordinator, Utah Department of Human Services
  • Rep. Steve Eliason Member of the Utah House of Representatives; @steveeliason
  • Michelle Camp Instructor, The Well-Armed Woman, a nonprofit specifically for women gunowners;@mrbatoast

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