Responding to a sudden decrease in his country's suicides, psychiatrist Paul Reisch researched environmental factors and found the military had just been reduced by half over a period of one year, leaving far fewer firearms in homes.
Switzerland falls just behind the United States, and fourth-highest in the world, for gun ownership. This is largely due to its compulsory military service, which demands that active service members keep their guns at home and offers service members a discount option for purchasing their weapons upon discharge. Such a high rate of gun ownership may be a contributor to suicides, as suggested by a study of "33 years of suicide and gun ownership data" showing a direct relationship between those two factors in the United States. The availability of guns automatically provides the option of an effective method of suicide.
Furthermore, those who do not have the option of using a gun to commit suicide may be unlikely to choose another method. In Reisch's research, "about 75 percent of the men who would have taken their life with a gun did not choose another method of suicide, like poison or hanging."
In Reisch's study, the relationship between reduced suicides and reduced military service was isolated by examining the suicide rates of men aged 18 to 43, who have to serve in Switzerland's military, and women and men of other ages, who do not, before and after the military change.