Objectives: To compare the sociodemographic characteristics of firearms suicide decedents and other suicide decedents in the Republic of Ireland between 1980 and 2005.Study design: A cross-sectional study of sociodemographic characteristics of those who committed suicide with a firearm and those who committed suicide by an alternative method.Methods: Suicide data from 1980 to 2005 inclusive, provided by the Central Statistics Office of Ireland, were analysed. For the purpose of this paper, suicide method was collapsed into two group's: firearm-assisted suicide (FAS) and non-firearm-assisted suicide (n-FAS). Differences in gender, marital status (married vs not married), area of residence (urban vs rural), agri-employment (agri-employed vs not agri-employed) and age were examined between the two groups. A logistic regression is presented using suicide method (FAS vs n-FAS) as the criterion variable and individual factors as predictors.Results: In total, 9674 suicides were recorded from 1 January 1980 to 31 December 2005. Seven hundred and ninety-three of these were FAS and 8881 were n-FAS. For both suicide profiles, the deceased were predominantly male, living in a rural setting and not married. However, this profile was more salient in the FAS group. In comparison with the n-FAS group, a greater proportion of the FAS decedents were male [chi(2)(1) = 152.5, P <= 0.0001, odds ratio (OR) = 4.5, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.4-6.1], from a rural setting [chi(2)(1) = 153.5, P <= 0.0001, OR = 4.4, 95%CI 3.2-5.6) and agri-employed [chi(2)(1) = 21.3, P <= 0.0001, OR = 1.5, 95%CI 1.3-1.8). FAS decedents were significantly younger than n-FAS victims, although the size of this effect was small (z = -8.4, P < 0.0005, r = -0.1). There was no difference in marital status between the two groups.Conclusions: Risk factors for FAS should inform policy-making in this area, with particular attention paid to protecting young males resident in rural settings. Consideration should be given to targeting agri-employed individuals as a specific at-risk group. (C) 2010 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.