Firearm Ownership, Storage Practices, and Suicide Risk Factors in Washington State, 2013-2016

Am J Public Health. 2018 Jul;108(7):882-888. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304403. Epub 2018 May 17.

Abstract

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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Ownership / statistics & numerical data*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Washington / epidemiology
  • Young Adult