The study, "Association of suicide rates, gun ownership, conservatism and individual suicide risk," has been conducted by University of California, Riverside sociology professor Augustine J. Kposowa.
Kposowa, who has studied suicide and its causes for two decades, analyzed mortality data from the U.S. Multiple Cause of Death Files for 2000 through 2004 and combined individual-level data with state-level information.
Firearm ownership, conservatism, suicide rate, church adherence, and the immigration rate were measured at the state level.
He analyzed data relating to 131,636 individual suicides, which were then compared to deaths from natural causes (excluding homicides and accidents).
According to Kposowa, many studies show that of all suicide methods, firearms have the highest case fatality, implying that an individual who selects this technique has a very low chance of survival.
With few exceptions, states with the highest rates of gun ownership, like Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Alabama, and West Virginia, also tended to have the highest suicide rates, he added.
The study, that has been published online in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology in February, also found that the odds of committing suicide were 2.9 times higher among men than women.
Divorced and separated individuals were 38 percent more likely to kill themselves than those who were married, the study said.
A higher percentage of church-goers at the state level reduced individual suicide risk, it added.