Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

Firearm Access Associated With Suicide Risk For U.S. Soldiers

Soldiers-Salute
(Credit: Bumble Dee/Shutterstock)

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Since 2004, the rate of death by suicide has exceeded that of death by combat injury for American soldiers. A review of more than 100 cases involving the suicide of an active-duty soldier found a significant association between firearm ownership, access and usage patterns and increased risk of suicide.

The study, published today in the open-access, online-only journal JAMA Network Open, conducted psychological autopsies of 135 U.S. soldiers who committed suicide during a 27-month period, while the individuals were on active duty but not deployed.

The review included interviewing the soldiers’ next-of-kin and supervisors about the individuals’ firearm ownership, storage and use. The researchers compared the patterns of behavior with both a control group of soldiers, with similar demographics and assessed risk of suicide, and a second group of soldiers who had self-reported suicidal ideation in the previous year.

According to the research team, individuals who had committed suicide were more likely to have owned firearms and carried them in public. This group also was more likely to store their guns loaded at home.

Although the study identified patterns of behavior associated with a higher risk of suicide, the authors caution the research was limited by the small sample size. Additionally, for some of the psychological autopsies, the team was only able to interview supervisors, who may have had less knowledge than next-of-kin about an individual’s firearm ownership and storage methods.

Still, the researchers say the review is an important step toward a better understanding of factors that put a soldier at increased risk of suicide, and encouraging these individuals to adopt safer patterns of behavior, such as storing their firearm and ammunition separately.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In