OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — Rep. Lori Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach, was the sponsor of a bill that is now law, requiring the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to release gun deaths each year.
"I found it to be quite revealing in terms of death by firearms relative to suicide," Gramlich said.
She added that deaths by suicide are a form of gun violence.
The 2020 data collected and analyzed by DHHS was released this week. Among the data, suicides accounted for 86 percent of all gun deaths in Maine. Of those 132 deaths, 118 were men, with the majority of all suicide deaths being men older than 45.
"That's a piece of data right there that we really need to keep right in the front of our minds and do everything we can to keep that from happening," Gramlich said.
"Part of it is simply our demographic. We have a suicide epidemic among veterans, unfortunately," Geoff Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, said.
Maine is ranked fifth in the nation for its number of veterans, according to World Population Review.
"Most of the public does not recognize that, by far, the overwhelming majority of our firearm losses are suicide," Greg Marley, who works in suicide prevention for NAMI Maine, said. "Suicide prevention is up to everybody."
Gramlich said DHHS is working on the 2021 gun fatality numbers, which are expected by the end of the year. After those are done, these numbers will be released every January.