Clinical strategies for reducing firearm suicide
Pallin, R. & Barnhorst, A.
Suicide is complex, with psychiatric, cultural, and socioeconomic roots. Though mental illnesses like depression contribute to risk for suicide, access to lethal means such as firearms is considered a key risk factor for suicide, and half of suicides in the USA are by firearm. When a person at risk of suicide has access to firearms, clinicians have a range of options for intervention. Depending on the patient, the situation, and the access to firearms, counseling on storage practices, temporary transfer of firearms, or further intervention may be appropriate. In the USA, ownership of and access to firearms are common and discussing added risk of access to firearms for those at risk of suicide is not universally practiced. Given the burden of suicide (particularly by firearm) in the USA, the prevalence of firearm access, and the lethality of suicide attempts with firearms, we present the existing evidence on the burden of firearm suicide and what clinicians can do to reduce their patients’ risk. Specifically, we review firearm ownership in the USA, firearm injury epidemiology, risk factors for firearm-related harm, and available interventions to reduce patients’ risk of firearm injury and death.