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Research Letter
May 18, 2020

Sociodemographic Factors Associated With High Risk for Firearm Suicide Among US Adults

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, New York
  • 2Mortality Research Group, US Census Bureau, Bethesda, Maryland
  • 3Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rockville, Maryland
JAMA Intern Med. Published online May 18, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.1334

Although firearms are a highly lethal means of attempting suicide1 and were used in 24 432 of 48 344 US suicide deaths (50.5%) in 2018, little is known about factors associated with firearm suicide risk. Much of the previous research describing firearm suicide compared suicide decedents using firearms with other methods.2 Without prospectively evaluating firearm suicide risk among living populations, however, these analyses did not yield firearm suicide rates and thus have limited utility for identifying high-risk groups. To increase our understanding of firearm suicide risk patterns, we compared firearm suicide risk across sociodemographic groups of US adults. Results might help inform tailoring firearm safety interventions to high-risk groups, such as the lethal means safety counseling widely available within Veterans Health Administration facilities.

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    1 Comment for this article
    A good start
    Steven Reid, M.D., F.A.A.N.S. | Doctor Lifeline, Incorporated, https://www.doctorlifeline.org
    As an activist working against physician suicide I found this article interesting. I regret the authors did not list greater details of their findings regarding educational status and employment. Moreover, the type of employment also would be of great interest. Nevertheless, the article is of value in advancing our understanding of relative risks, and challenges common presumptions regarding substitution of methods for suicide.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: I am the president of Doctor Lifeline, Incorporated, a non-profit organization with the sole mission of prevention of physician suicides.