What More Could We Do to Prevent Veteran Suicides? Survey Reveals Clues

January 11, 2019

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Medical Xpress

Many veterans are in favor of reducing access to firearms during a mental health crisis, recent findings suggest. Researchers surveyed 660 veterans receiving mental health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) about gun safety interventions. They found that 93 percent would approve of VA using one or more strategies to address patient gun access during a crisis. Strategies included screening for firearm access, distributing gun locks, and teaching veterans’ family members about the warning signs for suicide. “Veterans in mental health care are in favor of voluntary programs to reduce firearm access during high-risk periods,” said lead author Marcia Valenstein of the University of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. “This suggests the VA and other health systems should consider working with veterans to develop and implement these programs.” Valenstein and coauthors recommended that health care providers and others who work with people at risk for suicide take SPRC’s Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) course.

Spark Extra! Read the study abstract.