Ambiguities in data collection cast uncertainty on whether gun use for suicide or self-defense is more likely.
There is a wide range of estimates of gun use for self-defense, from under 2,000 to 2.5 million incidents annually. These figures vary based on a given data-collecting organization's methodology. The Gun Violence Archive—which has cataloged under 2,000 annual incidents several times in recent years—only counts incidents that are "significant enough" to be verified by law enforcement, while the 2.5 million figure, derived from a 1995 study by criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, relies on self-reported incidents.
The number of annual firearm suicides—measured by the Centers for Disease Control and the University of Washington—range between a low of 19,392 in 2010 and 24,975 in 2017. The number of firearm suicides has trended upward over the past decade.