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, 46 (6), 678-696

Impact of Firearm Availability and Gun Regulation on State Suicide Rates

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Impact of Firearm Availability and Gun Regulation on State Suicide Rates

Augustine Kposowa et al. Suicide Life Threat Behav.

Abstract

Past studies on suicide have investigated the association of firearm ownership and suicide risk in the United States. The aim of the present study was to build on previous work by examining the impact of firearm storage practices and the strictness of firearm regulation on suicide rates at the state level. Data were compiled from primarily three sources. Suicide and firearm ownership information was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Strictness of handgun regulation was derived from figures available at the Law Center to Prevent Violence, and controls were taken from the US Bureau of the Census. Mixed models were fitted to the data. Household firearm ownership was strongly associated with both suicide by all mechanisms, and firearm suicide. Storage practices had especially elevated consequences on suicide rates. Percent with loaded guns and gun readiness increased suicide rates, and strictness of gun regulation reduced suicide rates. Ready access to firearms can make a difference between life and death. Loaded and unlocked firearms within reach become risk factors for fatal outcomes from suicidal behavior. Future research might want to examine ways of obtaining more recent data on individual firearm ownership. This study proposes several policy recommendations for suicide prevention.

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