Urban–rural shifts in intentional firearm death: different causes, same results

Objectives. We analyzed urban-rural differences in intentional firearm death. Methods. We analyzed 584629 deaths from 1989 to 1999 assigned to 3141 US counties, using negative binomial regressions and an 11-category urban-rural variable. Results. The most urban counties had 1.03 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.87, 1.20) times the adjusted firearm death rate of the most rural counties. The most rural counties experienced 1.54 (95% CI = 1.29, 1.83) times the adjusted firearm suicide rate of the most urban. The most urban counties experienced 1.90 (95% CI = 1.50, 2.40) times the adjusted firearm homicide rate of the most rural. Similar opposing trends were not found for nonfirearm suicide or homicide. Conclusions. Firearm suicide in rural counties is as important a public health problem as firearm homicide in urban counties. Policymakers should become aware that intentional firearm deaths affect all types of communities in the United States.