Disagreement Over Connection Between Suicide Risk May and Household Firearm Possession

HealthDay News — Most US adults do not agree that household firearms increase the risk of suicide, according to a research letter published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Andrew Conner, BS, from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used data from a 2015 web-based survey to describe public opinion about whether household firearms increase the risk for suicide. The proportion of respondents who agreed with the statement “Having a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide” was assessed as the primary outcome. Overall, 3931 respondents were included in the final sample.

The researchers found that 15.4% of US adults agreed that the presence of a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide (6.3%, 8.9%, and 19.8% of firearm owners, those who live with someone who owns a firearm, and those who live in a home without firearms). 

Overall, 30.2% of health care practitioners agreed that suicide risk was increased with having a household firearm; 11.8% of health care practitioners who owned a firearm agreed with this statement. Fewer than 10% of gun owners with children or gun owners who had received firearm training agreed with the statement.

“Our findings suggest that medical and public health communities need to better educate at-risk patients and health care providers about how and why firearms increase the risk for suicide,” the authors write.

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Conner A, Azrael D, Miller M. Public opinion about the relationship between firearm availability and suicide: results from a national survey [published online October 24, 2017]. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M17-2348