This article is from the can.talk.guns FAQ, by Skeeter Abell-Smith firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
While suicides account for the overwhelming majority of all gun-related
deaths in Canada (80% in 1987), over two-thirds of all suicides are
committed by methods other than firearms.
For "gun control" to prevent suicides, potential suicides would have to
be very fleeting impulses that would pass before a person could get a
key, put it into a lock, open the lock, load the firearm, and fire it.
Since roughly as many people hang/suffocate/strangle themselves, the
argument is absurd.
Many suicides are contemplated for weeks or months and there are many
methods that are just as "impulsive" and just as deadly, such as jumping
There are two main types of suicides: the ones who want to die and the
ones who "cry out for help". The former uses methods that offer little
in the way of a "second chance" (firearms, jumping off buildings) and
the latter group uses methods that take a long time (pills). Most
suicides follow months or years of depression or illness, unlocking a
gun takes at most a couple of minutes.
From the book Waking Up Alive by Richard A. Heckler 1994:
"Although there are no official statistics on attempted (ie
non-fatal actions) suicide, it is generally estimated that there are
at least 8 to 20 attempts for each death by suicide."
While roughly 30% of suicides involve a firearm, the "success" rate
approaches 100% when a firearm is involved. If, on the other hand, the
other 70% of suicides actually have 8 to 20 attempts for every death,
then only 2 to 5% of suicide attempts involve a firearm. This is
especially interesting when you consider that 1 in four Canadian homes
has an average of 3 firearms. Wouldn't it be more prudent to expend our
resources trying to help the 20 to 50 thousand persons attempting
suicide every year than on trying to control a method employed in a
minority of suicides?
Canada has very strict firearm regulation yet it also has a higher
suicide rate than the US. (Japan has nearly no legally owned firearms
and their suicide rate is higher than Canada's.) [The Samurai, the
Mountie and the Cowboy; Observations on a One-Way Street]
Until 1960, Canada's suicide rate was fairly stable at about 7 per
100,000. Between 1960 and 1980 the suicide rate roughly doubled and has
remained high around 14 per 100,000 persons. The suicide rate for males
aged 20 to 24 roughly tripled between 1960 and 1980. [StatCan]
Studies indicate that the suicide rate in Canada increased after Bill
C-51 was adopted. Alcohol abuse is estimated to be a significant
contributing factor in 50% of all firearms `accidents' and
Recently, the suicide rate in Canada has been dropping, as it has been
in many other countries, including the US. However, suicide by _all_
methods has decreased, and our rate is still higher than other
industrial nations with less restrictive firearm laws, such as the US.
Even the Canadian government finds it difficult to claim that Canada's
suicide rate has been reduced by our anti-firearm laws. [ED-1996-1e]
 Health Reports Vol.1 No.1 "Causes of Death 1987" (Statistics
Canada, Health Division, Oct. 1989), pp. 184-186
 Robert J. Mundt, op cit.; and, David B. Kopel, op. cit.
 National Safety Council, "Accident Facts 1988-1991".