Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

U.S. Public Largely Ignores Link between Firearm Access, Suicide Completion

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

U.S. Public Largely Ignores Link between Firearm Access, Suicide Completion

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The evidence linking firearm access and suicide completion is largely ignored in current U.S. discussions on guns, Michael D. Anestis, PhD, said at the annual conference of the American Association of Suicidology.

"Only a tiny fraction of media discussions on gun deaths involve suicide. We must make a concerted and sustained effort to change this conversation," said Dr. Anestis, a clinical psychologist at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. When the relationship between firearms and suicide is discussed, it often is as a "footnote" and includes a lot of inaccurate information.

"We should relentlessly promote the indisputable fact that firearm access dramatically increases the risk of death by suicide. Safe storage [of firearms] should be promoted within the context of this fact," said Dr. Anestis, author of a book, "Guns and Suicide: An American Epidemic" (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), on the links between the two. But he maintained that misinformation hides this relationship. "Many firearm owners do not believe firearms are related to suicide."

Dr. Anestis reviewed results from a survey he and his associates ran in 2017 that documented these inaccurate beliefs regarding firearms and suicide. The researchers had 300 American adults who owned at least one firearm complete a questionnaire on their practices for firearm storage and their beliefs on the connections between firearm storage and suicide risk. The results showed a clear link between unsafe firearm storage and reduced belief of a link between firearm access and suicide risk (J Affect Disord. …

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