News Briefs: Mass. Senate passes life sciences bond bill; Mass. has second lowest gun suicide rate

State Senate passes life sciences bond bill

Image courtesy Office of Sen. Adam Hinds

Boston — Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, has announced that the Massachusetts Senate voted 33-4 Thursday to pass a bond bill extending the state’s investment in life sciences research and training to capitalize on the Commonwealth’s national advantage in the sector responsible for thousands of jobs in the state. Hinds serves as the Senate’s vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

The bill, S.2531, “An Act providing continued investment in the life sciences industry in the Commonwealth,” extends the state’s life sciences tax incentive program for another 10 years, proposes millions of dollars in grants to community colleges and vocational schools to increase employment opportunities, and authorizes spending on initiatives to promote regional efforts to advance innovations in bio-manufacturing. The bill is based on the $1 billion, 10-year initiative launched by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2007.

The bill also authorizes spending for innovative new programs at the state’s UMass campuses, including:

  • a biotechnology and precision-manufacturing research and training facility at UMass Amherst;
  • a center for nursing innovation at UMass Boston;
  • expansion and renovation of the center for advanced bio-manufacturing and digital health at UMass Dartmouth; and
  • a joint proposal between UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School to advance neuroscience workforce training, research and commercialization of medical devices.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the House of Representatives before going to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature.

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Massachusetts has second lowest gun suicide rate in the nation

Washington, D.C. — Data for 2016 reveals that states with weak gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the highest gun suicide rates in the nation, according to a Violence Policy Center analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

In addition, states with the lowest gun suicide rates have lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation.

The VPC analysis refers to gun suicide rates in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. A table of the states with the five highest gun suicide rates and the five lowest gun suicide rates is below.


States with the Five Highest Gun Suicide Rates States with the Five Lowest Gun Suicide Rates
Rank State Household Gun Ownership Gun Suicide Rate per 100,000 Rank State Household Gun Ownership Gun Suicide Rate per 100,000
1 Montana 67.5 percent 15.54 50 New Jersey 17.4 percent 1.97
2 Alaska 56.4 percent 15.23 49 Massachusetts 14.3 percent 2.06
3 Wyoming 73.8 percent 14.86 48 New York 22.2 percent 2.48
4 Oklahoma 46.7 percent 13.18 47 Hawaii 12.5 percent 2.59
5 West Virginia 57.6 percent 13.00 46 Connecticut 22.2 percent 3.08

The state with the highest per capita gun suicide rate in 2016 was Montana, followed by Alaska both of which have lax gun violence prevention laws as well as higher rates of gun ownership. The state with the lowest gun suicide rate in the nation was New Jersey, followed by Massachusetts. Both states have strong gun violence prevention laws and lower rates of gun ownership.

The total number of Americans killed in gun suicides increased to 22,938 in 2016, from 22,018 in 2015. The nationwide gun suicide rate in 2016 was 7.10 per 100,000, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2015’s gun suicide rate of 6.86 per 100,000.

According to the VPC’s updated Guns and Suicide fact sheet, in 2016, there were 44,965 suicides in the United States: 123 suicides per day, with one suicide every 11.7 minutes. A firearm was used in 51 percent of the 44,965 deaths. For middle-aged adults, the suicide rate is increasing. From 1999 to 2016, the suicide rate for men ages 35 to 64 increased 30.9 percent. For women in that age group, the rate increased 52.8 percent.

State gun suicide rates are calculated by dividing the number of gun suicide deaths by the total state population and multiplying the result by 100,000 to obtain the rate per 100,000, which is the standard and accepted method for comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

The VPC defined states with “weak” gun violence prevention laws as those that add little or nothing to federal law and have permissive laws governing the open or concealed carrying of firearms in public. States with “strong” gun violence prevention laws were defined as those that add significant state regulation that is absent from federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous and deadly types of firearms, setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and restricting the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public.

State gun ownership rates were obtained from the October 2014 American Journal of Public Health article by Michael Siegel et al., “The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Stranger and Nonstranger Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981-2010,” which is the most recent comprehensive published data available on state gun ownership.