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June 10, 1992

Firearm Access and Suicide

Author Affiliations

National Rifle Association Washington, DC

JAMA. 1992;267(22):3026. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480220044014

To the Editor.  —I would like to make some comments regarding the small-scale study of adolescent suicide in western Pennsylvania,1 even though the basic recommendation—that access to firearms by suicidal teenagers should be restricted by parents—is not controversial.First, projecting from the authors' data, overall gun ownership levels in the households of suicidal (including attempts and completions) and nonsuicidal teenagers in a psychiatric hospital were at most 45%, but hunting license information and other data suggest that household gun ownership levels are significantly higher in the nontroubled teenaged population of western Pennsylvania. Although the study is too small-scale to be conclusive, the suggestion that household gun ownership is positively associated with mentally healthy teenagers is certainly worthy of more study.Second, while the small-scale study—a sampling of 67 suicides over a 1½-year period in the western section of a large and populous state—attempted to find all teen suicides, suicides