Mental health and firearms in community-based surveys: implications for suicide prevention

Eval Rev. 2008 Jun;32(3):239-56. doi: 10.1177/0193841X08315871.


Suicide rates are higher among those who own a handgun and among those who [corrected] live in a household with a hand gun. This article examines the association between [corrected] gun ownership and mental health, another risk factor for suicide. Data from the General Social Survey, a series of surveys of U.S. adults, are analyzed to compare general emotional and mental health, sadness and depression, functional mental health, and mental health help seeking among gun owners, persons who do not own but live in a household with a gun, and those who do not own a gun. After taking into account a few basic demographic characteristics associated with both variables, there appears to be no association between mental health and gun ownership. Nor is there any association between mental health and living in a household with a firearm. Findings suggest that the high risk of suicide among those who own or live in a household with a gun is not related to poor mental health. Implications for prevention are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Mental Health Services*
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health*
  • Psychometrics
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control*