Objectives: To characterize firearm ownership and storage practices in Washington State and assess their relationship with suicide risk factors.
Methods: Using Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for 2013 to 2016, we conducted survey-weighted multivariable Poisson regression models to obtain prevalence ratios (PRs) and confidence intervals (CIs).
Results: Of 34 884 adult respondents, 34.3% (95% CI = 33.7%, 35.0%) reported a firearm in their household, among whom 36.6% (95% CI = 35.4%, 37.7%) stored their firearm locked and unloaded. There were no differences in mental health indicators by firearm ownership or storage practice status. Binge and chronic alcohol use were somewhat more prevalent among adults from firearm-owning households (PR = 1.2; 95% CI = 1.1, 1.3; PR = 1.2; 95% CI = 1.1, 1.4, respectively) and among those living in households not practicing safe storage (PR = 1.4; 95% CI = 1.2, 1.7; PR = 1.9; 1.5, 2.3, respectively).
Conclusions: Variability in mental health does not explain the substantial increased suicide risk among individuals in firearm-owning households. Greater prevalence of alcohol misuse among adults in firearm-owning households not practicing safe storage highlights the need for suicide prevention interventions.