Firearm Retailers and Suicide: Results from a Survey Assessing Willingness to Engage in Prevention Efforts

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2020 Feb;50(1):83-94. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12574. Epub 2019 Jul 29.


Objective: Firearms are a highly lethal and commonly used means of suicide. Firearm retailers may be an important group of community members to train as they guide sales and have conversations about firearm-related laws and safety issues with customers. This study presents findings from the largest survey to date of independently owned firearm retailers (n = 178) in Washington State with the goal of ascertaining the extent of willingness to engage in suicide prevention efforts and factors that may underlie willingness.

Methods: Descriptive analyses and logistic regressions assess factors related to self-reported willingness to engage in suicide prevention activities guided by a well-tested theoretical model.

Results: Respondents are unaware that suicide is the leading type of firearm fatality and have high levels of exposure to suicide in their personal and professional lives. The majority endorse a willingness to learn and engage in suicide prevention activities. Knowledge about warning signs of suicide and beliefs about the preventability of suicide are predictive of a willingness to engage in prevention efforts. Reluctance to discuss personal issues with customers is negatively associated with willingness to engage in prevention efforts.

Conclusions: Suggestions for how to improve outreach to firearm retailers to enhance suicide prevention efforts are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Commerce*
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ownership*
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires