True
Cleaver

"Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 15-19 year olds and 25-34 year olds in Missouri."

— Rep. Tracy McCreery (D)-St. Louis

April 8, 2019 House debate regarding House Bill 575

State Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis, raised her concerns about carrying guns on college campuses at an April 8 House debate regarding House Bill 575.

This bill, sponsored by Rep. Dean Dohrman, R-La Monte, passed the Senate on April 25 but has stalled out before receiving final approval. The bill, which would allow some faculty and staff on college campuses to carry concealed weapons, is unlikely to pass this session.

In debate, McCreery said, "Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 15-19 year olds and 25-34 year olds in Missouri.”

McCreery said she was not backing this bill because she believes carrying firearms on campus would provide “more chances for people to commit suicide.”

We decided to take a closer look at McCreery’s statement that suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth and young adults in Missouri.

The origins of the statistics

When we asked McCreery about her claim, she pointed us to a fact sheet, Firearm Suicide in the United States, published in August 2018 by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

"This trend has been of particular concern for children and teens, with the rate of firearm suicide up by 61 percent in the past ten years," according to the fact sheet, referring to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

McCreery also said she found data specific to Missouri from the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

We found her data on a fact sheet, Suicide in Missouri: Where We Stand, published by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health researchers, on behalf of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, in August 2017. It precisely states that suicide “is the second leading cause of death among 15-19 and 25-34 year-olds.”

We were also able to find the most recent fact sheet, which was published in August 2018. It still states that suicide is the “second-leading cause of death in Missouri among youth/young adults ages 10-24 in 2016,” adding that suicides are highest among 20-24 year-olds.

"The statistics speak for themselves,” McCreery said. "In Missouri, young people usually use guns to commit suicide. The data is very powerful."

How do Missouri’s stats compare to other states?

The information provided by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health also reveals useful information as to where Missouri stands compared to other states. Suicide rates in Missouri are higher than those nationally. The state is ranked 14th-highest in the nation with a rate of 18.33 (per 100,000 people), while the national rate is 13.42.

"Missouri has had several federal grants that have provided programs in schools and training in mental health agencies. It is one of a handful of states to have been awarded what’s called a Zero Suicide grant,” said Maureen Underwood, clinical adviser for the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.

According to the CDC, suicide is also the second leading cause of death among the youth and young adults ages 10-34 in the United States in 2017.

Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for the same age group.

Our ruling

McCreery said, "Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 15-19 year olds and 25-34 year olds in Missouri.”

The latest counts published by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health show McCreery is correct. We rate McCreery’s statement True.

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