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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington Study Finds Suicidal Teens Have Easy Access to Firearms

More than 40 percent of American teenagers who lived in a home with a gun had easy access to it, according to a University of Washington School of Public Health study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Surprisingly, the percentage was the same among teens with mental health problems and suicidal tendencies, the study found.

Joseph Simonetti
[Photo: Dr. Joseph Simonetti]

About one in three teens between the ages of 13 and 18 lived in a house with at least one firearm, according to the research, led by Dr. Joseph Simonetti, an MPH student in the Department of Health Services at the time and research fellow at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. Researchers had hypothesized that teens with mental health risk factors for suicide would be less likely to have access to firearms, given public health recommendations on limiting firearms access.

Data was analyzed from the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement, a nationally representative survey of more than 10,000 U.S. teens interviewed between 2001 and 2004.

“Given that firearms are the second most common means of suicide among adolescents, further attention to developing and implementing evidence-based strategies to decrease firearm access in this age group is warranted,” the study authors wrote.

Co-authors included Dr. Frederick Rivara, adjunct professor of epidemiology, and Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, assistant professor of epidemiology.