Promoting Firearm Safety as a Suicide Prevention Strategy Within Health Care Systems: Challenges and Recommendations

Psychiatr Serv. 2020 Mar 1;71(3):298-300. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2019 Nov 14.


In 2017, half of the 47,173 suicides in the United States were firearm related. Health care systems have an important role in promoting firearm-related lethal-means safety, a key component of suicide prevention programs. To effectively do so, health care systems will face challenges, including training staff, developing interventions, navigating patients' risk perceptions, and managing sensitive firearm-related patient information. These challenges can be addressed by developing evidence-driven and provider-specific training, prioritizing research that informs evidence-based clinical interventions (in part through improving understanding of risk perceptions), clarifying data management practices, partnering with stakeholders from the firearm community, and leveraging the health care systems' roles within the public health system.

Keywords: Firearms; Mental health hospitals; Mental health systems; Suicide and self-destructive behavior; Suicide prevention; veterans.

MeSH terms

  • Firearms*
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Safety*
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control