Firearm Availability and Storage Practices Among Military Personnel Who Have Thought About Suicide
Journal Article - Open Access,01 Jan 2014,04 Feb 2019
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA SAN DIEGO United States
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Over 60 of U.S. military suicides occur at home and involve a firearm. Nearly all 95 of military firearm suicides involve a personally-owned firearm. Non-military data indicate the risk of suicide is six times higher in households with a firearm relative to households without a firearm, although this risk is reduced if the firearms are kept unloaded andor locked. Because firearms have very high case fatality rates, safe firearm storage practices could be an important component of comprehensive suicide prevention in the military, but little is known about firearm ownership and storage practices in this population. We examined firearm storage practices among 1652 active duty military personnel enrolled in the PRImary Care Screening Methods PRISM study, conducted in six military primary care clinics across the U.S. Military personnel were invited to complete a survey during routine primary care clinic visits. Participants were required to be eligible for military medical services, 18 years of age or older, and able to complete informed consent procedures. Although the majority of suicides among military personnel involve firearms, little is known about firearm possession and storage practices in this population. In this sample, one-third of active military personnel reported a firearm in or around the home. Access to firearms was higher for white men, a demographic profile previously associated with elevated suicide rates. Military personnel with a lifetime history of suicide ideation and recent thoughts of death were less likely to use multiple storage methods. Those with lifetime ideation were also more likely to keep firearms loaded and unlocked.
- Operations Research