How Can We Reduce U.S. Firearm Suicide Rates?

August 04, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
Speaker:  Colorado


A recent report published in the American Journal of Psychiatry investigates the association between firearm ownership and firearm suicide rates and the potential impact of policies to prevent firearm suicide. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) reviewed research from around the world and found that legislation intended to reduce access to firearms has lowered firearm suicide rates in other countries. Evidence from the U.S. showed an association between greater firearm availability and increased suicide risk, and studies from other developed countries showed a correlation between firearm ownership and firearm suicide rates. According to the authors, targeted policies limiting access to firearms may help prevent firearm suicide in the U.S., including gun violence restraining orders, smart gun technology, and safe storage, in addition to social marketing campaigns that promote gun safety and educate the public about suicide. Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at CUMC and Director of NYSPI Jeffrey Lieberman commented, “These findings illustrate the influence that social policy can have on medical conditions, in this case suicide.” The authors recommended that any firearm suicide prevention measures put in place also be monitored and evaluated for effectiveness. “Ultimately, such program evaluation and lifting the ban on federal funding of research on firearm violence will help improve efforts to reduce firearm suicide mortality,” said J. John Mann, the Paul Janssen professor of translational neuroscience at CUMC, director of the Molecular Imaging and Neuropathy Division at NYSPI, and senior author.

Spark Extra! Read an abstract of the report.