Reducing gun access may lower suicide rates: study

This finding is based on evidence from around the world on the relationship between firearm ownership and firearm suicide rates.

New York: Targeted legislation to limit access to firearms, smart gun technology and public education may help reduce suicide rates in the US, a new study has

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Centre (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) have found that legislation reducing access to firearms has lowered firearm suicide rates in other countries. This finding is based on evidence from around the world on the relationship between firearm ownership and firearm suicide rates, researchers said.

To reduce firearm suicide rates in the US, researchers recommended several measures, such as targeted 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.

According to the researchers, half of suicide deaths involve a firearm. In 2014, of the more than 33,500 firearm deaths in the US, over 21,000 were the result of suicide. About 38 per cent of US households own at least one gun, making firearms widely available to those at risk of suicide. Their findings and recommendations were based on a review of case - control, ecological, and time - series studies from the US and other countries.

The researchers extrapolated from gun control measures implemented elsewhere in considering what might be possible and effective in preventing firearm suicides in the US. Studies in the US showed, at both ecological and
individual levels, that greater firearm availability is associated with greater risk of firearm suicide. Globally, four studies in other developed countries found
that per capita gun ownership correlates with national firearm suicide rates.

Over the three-year period from 2000 to 2002, the 15 states with the highest household firearm ownership (47 per cent) had almost twice as many suicides (14,809) as the six states with the lowest firearm ownership (15 per cent, 8,052).
This difference in overall suicides is largely accounted for by the difference in firearm suicides (9,749 compared with 2,606). Non-firearm suicides (5,060 compared with 5,446) and the total populations of the two sets of states were comparable. While states vary widely in the stringency of their firearm laws, recent studies are encouraging about the potential benefits of targeted and multifaceted firearm restrictions, including purchasing permits, waiting periods,
safe storage, gun violence restraining orders, background checks, and registration guidelines, researchers said.

All of these measures have been associated with lower firearm suicide rates and lower overall suicide rates, they said. The research was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

( Source : PTI )
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