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Melvin Stephens

Mental illness, previous suicidality, and access to guns in the United States

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Ilgen, M.A., Kara Zivin, R.J. McCammon, and M. Valenstein. 2008. "Mental illness, previous suicidality, and access to guns in the United States." Psychiatric Services, 59(2): 198-200.

Objective: This study examined the association between mental disorders, prior suicidality, and access to guns and gun safety in the U. S. population. Methods: Using data from adult participants (N=5,692) from the National Comorbidity Survey: Replication (NCS-R), this study examined relationships between mental disorders, past suicidality, and gun access and safety practices. Results: Individuals with lifetime mental disorders (N=3,528) were as likely as those without (N=2,034) to have access to a gun (34.1% versus 36.3%; odds ratio [OR]=. 9, 95% confidence interval [CI]=.8-1.1), carry a gun (4.8% versus 5.0%; OR=1.0, CI=.7-1.40), or store a gun in an unsafe manner (6.2% versus 7.3%; OR=. 9, CI=.51.4). However, individuals with a prior suicide attempt were less likely than those without such an attempt to have access to a gun (23.8% versus 36.0%; OR=.6, CI=.5-.8). Conclusions: Given the previously established relationship between mental health risk factors and suicide, this study highlights the need to assess for gun access among high-risk individuals.

DOI:10.1176/appi.ps.59.2.198 (Full Text)

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