Legislation reducing access to firearms can lower suicide rates in the US, says a study based on examination of relationship between gun ownership and suicide rates around the world.
In 2014, of the more than 33,500 firearm deaths in the US, over 21,000 were the result of suicide. About 38 percent of US households own at least one gun, making firearms widely available to those at risk of suicide, the study authors pointed out.
Their findings and recommendations, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, were based on a review of case-control, ecological, and time-series studies from the US and other countries.
The researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) extrapolated from gun control measures implemented elsewhere in considering what might be possible and effective in preventing firearm suicides in the US.
These findings illustrate the influence that social policy can have on medical conditions, in this case suicide, noted Jeffrey Lieberman, Director of New York State Psychiatric Institute.
To reduce firearm suicide rates in the United States, the authors recommended several measures, such as targetted legislation to limit firearm access to individuals at risk for suicide, using smart gun technology, offering public education on firearm suicide, and research to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention methods.
Studies in the US showed, at both ecological and individual levels, that greater firearm availability is associated with greater risk of firearm suicide.
Over the three-year period from 2000 to 2002, the 15 states with the highest household firearm ownership (47 percent) had almost twice as many suicides as the six states with the lowest firearm ownership (15 percent) the report said.
Globally, four studies in other developed countries found that per capita gun ownership correlates with national firearm suicide rates.
To reduce firearm suicide rates in the US, the authors recommended several measures, such as targetted legislation to limit firearm access to individuals at risk for suicide, using smart gun technology, offering public education on firearm suicide, and research to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention methods.