Michael D Anestis

Michael D Anestis
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey | Rutgers · Rutgers School of Public Health

Ph.D.

About

189
Publications
67,189
Reads
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6,512
Citations
Introduction
Executive Director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center and Associate Professor of Urban-Global Public Health at Rutgers University
Additional affiliations
August 2012 - present
University of Southern Mississippi
January 2010 - December 2012
University of Mississippi Medical Center
January 2007 - December 2012
Florida State University
Education
July 2010 - June 2011
University of Mississippi Medical Center
Field of study
  • Clinical Psychology
May 2007 - August 2011
Florida State University
Field of study
  • Clinical Psychology
August 2005 - April 2007
Florida State University
Field of study
  • Clinical Psychology

Publications

Publications (189)
Article
Full-text available
Using previous research, we examined the impact of 4 handgun laws (waiting periods, universal background checks, gun locks, and open carrying regulations) on suicide rates. We used publicly available databases to collect information on statewide laws, suicide rates, and demographic characteristics for 2013. Each law was associated with significantl...
Article
Research supports a model in which emotionally dysregulated individuals are more likely to think about suicide and experience proximal risk factors for suicidal ideation (e.g., thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness). The drive to escape aversive affective sensations inherent in emotion dysregulation, however, serves as an obstacle to the...
Article
Full-text available
A commentary on our article, "The Modal Suicide Decedent Did Not Consume Alcohol Just Prior to the Time of Death: An Analysis with Implications for Understanding Suicidal Behavior," published in this issue, was reviewed. We agree with the authors of that commentary regarding a coding error that has now been corrected. While we disagree with several...
Article
Full-text available
It is widely accepted that suicidal behavior often occurs with little planning. We propose, however, that suicidal behavior is rarely if ever impulsive-that it is too frightening and physically distressing to engage in without forethought-and that suicidal behavior in impulsive individuals is accounted for by painful and fearsome behaviors capable...
Article
Introduction: Despite representing fewer than 5% of suicide attempts, firearms account for over half of deaths. Yet there is little clinical information regarding firearm attempts, particularly survivors. We assessed clinical factors differentiating firearm suicide survivors from decedents, firearm attempters from other methods, and firearm attemp...
Article
Background: Disability status is associated with correlates of suicide risk (perceived burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness, negative future disposition, felt stigma, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts). Aims: This study aimed to examine whether suicide-related correlates differ significantly as a function of disability type. Methods: I...
Article
Introduction: Suicide models propose that the capability for suicide, such as fearlessness about death (FAD), is necessary for the transition from suicidal desire to a suicide attempt. Most studies have relied on self-report methods to assess FAD. However, this research has produced equivocal results. As individuals may have limited awareness of l...
Preprint
Objective: Firearm sales in the U.S. have surged throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Consistent with pre-pandemic trends, individuals tended to purchase firearms for self-protection during COVID-19. In addition to perceptions of both general and pandemic-specific threats motivating protective ownership, this form of ownership is also motivated by tho...
Article
Objective: To identify and verify classes of firearm owners that exist within the United States and determine the sources that classes deemed credible to discuss firearm safety for suicide prevention. Methods: The study is composed of two parts. Part 1 (N = 1018) utilizes a nationally representative sample of firearm owners. Part 2 (N = 1064) co...
Article
Importance: Understanding mental health and substance use treatment seeking and suicidality among suicide decedents is important to determine prevention efforts. Objective: To evaluate differences in treatment seeking and suicidality between suicide decedents who died by firearms and those who died by other methods. Design, setting, and partici...
Article
The present study sought to determine the extent to which the message or messenger is more important for news media portrayal of gun violence prevention. Exploratory analyses also examined factors related to Fox News and MSNBC credibility. Participants (N = 3,500) were US adults matched to the 2010 US Census on several demographic variables. Two mo...
Article
Previous research has linked unsafe firearm storage practices and other ownership-related characteristics to key factors that facilitate the transition from suicidal thoughts to suicidal behaviors (i.e., acquired capability for suicide). This research has not investigated the extent to which firearm owners store firearms in their vehicles, a factor...
Article
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Shame aversion has been theorized to motivate aggression against the self or others as means of down-regulating shame. Additionally, the direction of aggression may depend on tendencies to attribute blame or causes internally or externally. Data from two separate samples were used to examine shame aversion and its interaction with causal or blame a...
Article
Objective This study examined if essential workers (EW) reported higher past month suicidal ideation (SI) and coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) stress than non-EW, explored if the association between EW status and SI is indirect through COVID stress, and tested whether EW who identified as black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) experienced more pas...
Article
Full-text available
Importance Firearm access is associated with risk for suicide, and, since early 2020, the US has experienced an unprecedented surge in firearm sales. Objective To assess frequency of suicidal ideation among individuals who purchased firearms during the surge period (surge purchasers), other firearm owners, and non–firearm owners. Design, Setting,...
Article
Objective The present study seeks to determine differences in lifetime suicidal ideation, dispositional capability, acquired capability, and practical capability among those who have and have not served as first responders, and among subgroups of first responders. Methods Data were collected as part of a large online (n = 3,500) study seeking to u...
Article
Rationale In 2020 the U.S. saw a firearm purchasing surge that was synchronous with the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic and notable community unrest. Extant literature has highlighted a potential cohort effect among 2020 firearm purchasers and the importance of characterizing these individuals to inform policy and interventions. Disposi...
Article
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This study used latent profile analysis (LPA) to identify differing classes of psychopathic traits in a large sample of military personnel (90.7% Army National Guard) and examined how membership across profiles can be differentiated by mean scores on external correlates relevant to psychopathy and/or to military service (e.g., aggression, posttraum...
Article
Objective: White men in U.S. cultures of honor die by suicide at greater rates than other demographic groups. This finding has been attributed to factors such as the prevalence and use of firearms in men's suicide in honor states, as well as motivational risk factors (e.g., thwarted belongingness). Other features of honor cultures (e.g., physical...
Article
Suicide-specific rumination, a repetitive mental fixation on one's suicidal thoughts and intentions, may influence the transition from suicidal thoughts to behaviors. Research on suicide-specific rumination has been hindered by the lack of an independent measurement tool. This article presents the development and validation of a self-report measure...
Article
This present study sought to examine how demographics and the availability of means for suicide converge to impact method selection between firearms and hanging, which are the two most lethal and commonly used methods for suicide in the United States. Data were collected as part of a larger online study that gathered information about suicide deced...
Article
Full-text available
To prevent suicidal behaviors, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms and processes that enable an individual to act on suicidal thoughts. Suicide capability, which involves an increased pain tolerance and fearlessness of death, is a critical factor that enables an individual to endure the physical pain necessary to make a lethal suicide attemp...
Article
Objective The present study sought to determine which painful and provocative events differentiated those with suicidal ideation from those who attempted suicide. Additionally, it presents a novel way of utilizing the Painful and Provocative Scale (PPES) by looking at items dichotomously as experienced or not experienced, instead of the frequency a...
Article
Objective: Given that the majority of those who die by suicide are male, masculine traits have been examined as a potential link to the development of capability for suicide. However, research has not examined if such traits influence suicidal desire (i.e., thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness). This study examined the influence of ste...
Article
There is a need to identify the subset of individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms at greatest risk for transitioning from suicidal ideation to a suicide attempt. Contemporary models of suicide risk propose that the capability for suicide is necessary for moving from suicidal ideation to a suicide attempt. Few studies have ex...
Article
Objective The present study sought to determine if among a sample of firearm owning suicide decedents, the type and number of firearms owned was associated with dying by suicide using a firearm compared to another method. Method Data were collected as part of a larger online study that gathered information on suicide decedents and the context surr...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Preliminary evidence suggests firearm availability may increase the risk for suicide ideation and attempts, two common precursors to suicide death. Little is known about which aspects of firearm availability may account for this association. The primary purpose of this study was to examine associations among multiple dimensions of firea...
Article
Background Agitation is an important transdiagnostic factor for several mental health disorders and a significant risk factor for dangerous or maladaptive coping behaviors. How an individual responds to experiences of agitation itself may also play a crucial role in conferring risk towards maladaptive behaviors. Specifically, ruminating on high aro...
Article
This study sought to determine differences in preferred messengers on the topic of safe firearm storage and suicide prevention between firearm owners and non-firearm owners, and among firearm owners of different racial groups and sexes. Participants were 6200 United States residents recruited via Qualtrics Panels to complete an online survey. Data...
Article
Objective The U.S. suicide rate has increased 35% since 1999. The role of the Internet has not been thoroughly investigated despite Internet use more than doubling from 1999 to present. The majority of U.S. suicide deaths are by firearm; however, there is no examination of the association between trends in firearm Internet searches and overall and...
Article
Firearm sales have surged during COVID-19, raising concerns about a coming wave of suicide deaths. Little is known, however, about the individuals considering acquiring firearms during the pandemic. Recent research has highlighted that individuals considering acquiring firearms may be motivated by exaggerated threat expectancies. In a sample of 3,5...
Article
Objectives. To examine whether lethal means counseling and provision of cable locks prompt safe firearm storage relative to control among firearm-owning members of the Mississippi National Guard. Methods. This randomized controlled trial utilized a 2 × 2 factorial design (lethal means counseling vs control, provision of cable locks vs no cable lock...
Article
Introduction: To examine positive and negative affective processes associated with firearm acquisition and firearm ownership. Methods: An online cross-sectional survey assessing firearm ownership, reasons for firearm ownership, intentions to acquire a firearm in the next 12 months, and positive and negative affective states was administered to 6,20...
Article
Firearm availability is correlated with increased suicide mortality. Some firearm owners may be more vulnerable to suicide than others, but heterogeneity among firearm owners has received little empirical attention. The present study used latent class analysis (LCA) to identify subgroups of firearm owners who keep firearms primarily for protection...
Article
Research has largely not identified processes contributing to the relationship between physical disability and suicide risk. This cross-sectional research is aimed at examining the associations among felt stigma, perceived burdensomeness, disability severity, and perceptions about future suicidal ideation and attempts. Adults (N = 127) with physica...
Article
Introduction Given the increase in firearm purchases during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, this study seeks to determine the extent to which COVID-19 firearm purchasers differ in terms of suicide risk from non-firearm owners and firearm owners who did not make a purchase during COVID-19. Methods Participants (N=3,500) were recru...
Article
Firearm availability has traditionally been conceptualized as an environmental risk factor for suicide mortality. Firearm acquisition for the primary purpose of self-protection (i.e., protective gun ownership) is often motivated by exaggerated threat expectancies-a central component of anticipatory anxiety-but firearm acquisition may paradoxically...
Article
Firearms account for the majority of suicide deaths in the United States military and access to firearms is a risk factor for suicide. Prior research has shown service members tend to store firearms unsafely, with some research indicating this is particularly true among those with elevated suicide risk. Existing research has focused on individuals...
Article
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Background: Opioid abuse/dependence is associated with multiple negative outcomes relative to other forms of substance abuse/dependence, including relapse. Research identifying modifiable characteristics associated with opioid dependence and associated negative outcomes may inform the development of targeted interventions for this high-risk populat...
Article
Background: The relation between psychopathic traits and suicide ideation (SI) is frequently discussed but little research has examined potential mechanisms underlying this association. The interpersonal theory of suicide (ITS) proposes two mechanisms in the pathogenesis of suicidal desire: thwarted belongingness (TB) and perceived burdensomeness...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Suicide is consistently within the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. The suicide rate of National Guard personnel is elevated relative to the general population; however, research suggests that many of the suicide risk factors for military personnel are similar to the suicide risk factors for civilians. We examined w...
Article
Objective: Firearm means safety strategies, such as safe storage, are effective in reducing suicide rates but are not widely implemented in the United States. This study examined the association between reason for firearm ownership, beliefs about firearm ownership and storage and suicide risk, willingness to engage in means safety, and current fir...
Article
Full-text available
Reducing access to highly lethal methods for suicide (i.e., means safety) has been promoted as a way to reduce suicide risk. Research by Anestis et al. (J Affect Disord 227:530–535, 2018) has demonstrated that individuals who believe firearm ownership and storage are not associated with suicide risk and that those who are prevented from utilizing a...
Article
Previous literature has identified nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) as a common and noteworthy behavior, particularly given its association with psychopathology and suicide. However, the research on NSSI among males has resulted in mixed findings. Additionally, few studies have examined NSSI among service members and only one study to date has examin...
Article
Soldiers in the U.S. Army National Guard are at elevated risk for suicide compared to soldiers in the other components. Most suicides by military service members, including members of the U.S. Army National Guard, are enacted with personal firearms. The unsafe storage of firearms is associated with increased risk for death by suicide. Therefore, ef...
Article
Life experiences and interpersonal relationships constitute risk or resilience factors in the development of psychopathology among National Guard (NG) personnel. Psychopathy and narcissism are related to these factors in civilians and may predispose NG personnel to certain experiences or influence their responses to these experiences. This study ex...
Article
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a disorder characterized by emotion regulation (ER) difficulties. Although research indicates that patterns of ER differ across racial groups, few studies have examined the role of race in the ER-BPD association. This study sought to address this gap. Participants in this study identified as either East Asia...
Article
Objective: This study examined the relationship between religious affiliation, social policy beliefs, and whether individuals spoke with anyone about suicide prior to suicide death. Methods: 267 suicide loss survivors reported on characteristics of suicide decedents. Results: Binary logistic regressions found those who identified as socially libera...
Article
Non-legislative forms of means safety (i.e., safe firearm storage practices) have been promoted as a way to reduce elevated suicide risk found among firearm owners. However, evidence suggests that some firearm owners are less willing than others to engage in these practices. The current study aimed to understand factors that differentiate firearm o...
Article
Objective Opioid use disorders are associated with heightened suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide death. This study aimed to examine the extent to which opioid differentiates between those with suicide attempts from those with lifetime suicidal ideation but no history of attempt. Methods Participants were drawn from the US National Gu...
Article
This study sought to compare risk factors for suicidal ideation among heterosexual and sexual minority college students from a previously understudied conservative region of the U.S. Suicidal ideation, thwarted belongingness (TB), perceived burdensomeness (PB), and capability for suicide were examined.It was found that PB was significantly higher a...
Article
Full-text available
Firearm legislation is associated with statewide suicide rates; however, prior research has often relied upon older data and categorical legislative grades while also failing to consider the nuanced role of firearm ownership. Therefore, the robust literature base on legislation and suicide has not directly examined regarding the extent to which the...
Article
Objective National Guard service members demonstrate increased suicide risk relative to the civilian population. One potential mechanism for this increased risk may be familiarity with and access to firearms following deployment. This study examined the association between firearm ownership, reasons for ownership, and firearm familiarity with a wid...
Article
Full-text available
Previous evidence suggests an association between negative cognitive styles and suicide-related outcomes. Recently, Acute Suicidal Affective Disturbance (ASAD) was proposed to characterize the phenomenology of acute suicidal crises, with key features being the rapid onset of suicidal intent, social- or self-alienation, perceptions of intractability...
Article
Purpose Firearms account for the majority of suicide deaths in the US military and general population. The percentage of suicides resulting from firearms is higher in the military, however, and as such, the ratio of non-lethal to lethal suicide attempts is lower in the military than in the general population. In 2013, Congress passed the National...
Article
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Objectives This study examined histories of suicidality among those with and without physical disabilities. Physical disabilities were anticipated to differentiate those with a history of suicide attempts from those with a history of ideation only after accounting for the presence of health conditions and other correlates. Methods Participants wer...
Article
Objective The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between religious affiliation, political beliefs, and lifetime mental health help‐seeking behavior in a sample of suicide decedents. We hypothesized that Christian decedents would be less likely to have sought help than non‐Christians, and socially conservative individuals would be...
Article
Objectives Despite the general suicide rate within the military being comparable to the general population when comparing peers, there are certain branches of the military that have elevated risk. Specifically, the U.S. National Guard has suicide rates that are constantly higher than other military branches and civilian peers. The National Guard ar...
Article
Full-text available
Suicide rates within the military are elevated relative to the general population; however, research suggests that many of the suicide risk factors for military personnel are similar to the suicide risk factors for civilians. Given that many military specific experiences (e.g. number of deployments) are not considered robust predictors of either su...
Article
Full-text available
Firefighters report high rates of suicidality and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This investigation explored the moderating role of distress tolerance (DT) in the association between PTSD symptomatology and suicidality in firefighters. Covariates included trauma load, depressive symptom severity, gender, race, age, and education. The sample...
Article
Objective Means safety interventions are effective at reducing suicide rates. This study examined beliefs about firearm ownership or storage and suicide risk, lifetime suicidal thoughts, and openness to means safety. Method A community sample of 107 American adult firearm owners (51.4% male; 82.2% White; mage = 37.46) completed a series of self‐re...
Article
This study seeks to determine if the severity of suicidal ideation at the worst point can differentiate individuals who think about suicide (ideators) from those who make a suicide attempt (attempters). Subsequently, the indirect effect of worst point ideation on differentiating ideators from attempters through various pathways such as an increased...
Article
Background: Exposure to suicide and closeness to a suicide decedent may be relevant to means safety, especially in firearm owners. This study examines how such factors are associated with firearm owners' current firearm storage methods and openness to changing storage methods. Method: 300 firearm owners completed a survey on Amazon's Mechanical...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the general suicide rate within the military being comparable to the general population when comparing peers, there are certain branches of the military that have elevated risk. Specifically, the U.S. National Guard has suicide rates that are constantly higher than other military branches and civilian peers. The National Guard are a unique...
Article
Firearms account for approximately half of all suicides in the US and are highly lethal, widely available, and popular; thus, are an ideal candidate for targeted means safety interventions. However, despite their value as a suicide prevention tool, firearm means safety strategies are not widely utilized, possibly due to factors which impede opennes...
Article
The capability to enact lethal self-harm has recently been highlighted as a critical risk factor for suicidal behavior. Klonsky and May's (2015) three step theory of suicide (3ST) expanded upon the construct of the capability for suicide by dividing it into categories: dispositional, acquired, and practical. The current study examined constructs of...
Article
Using a military sample comprised largely of National Guard personnel, zero-inflation negative binomial regression was applied to estimate the effects of indirect, nonface valid indicators of suicide ideation [Thwarted Belongingness (TB), Perceived Burdensomeness (PB), and Hopelessness], in predicting suicide ideation. Data from a sample of 497 mil...
Article
Background: Firearm ownership and unsafe storage increase risk for suicide. Little is known regarding factors that influence storage practices and willingness to engage in means safety. Methods: Utilizing Amazon's Mechanical Turk program, we recruited an online sample of 300 adults living in the US who own at least one firearm. Firearm storage p...
Article
Studies have identified independent relationships between psychopathy, narcissism, and suicidality. The current study expands upon the extant literature by exploring psychopathic and narcissistic personality traits and components of the interpersonal–psychological theory of suicide, utilizing a 3-factor model of psychopathy and 2-factor model of pa...
Article
Suicide is a leading cause of death and represents a serious public health concern. However, our ability to predict its occurrence has not improved over the last 50 years and we continue to rely on past suicidal behavior as the most robust predictor of future suicidal behavior. Recent theories have emphasized the role of contextual factors that inc...
Article
Full-text available
Firearms account for half of all U.S. suicide deaths, but research on mechanisms through which firearms confer risk is limited. Although research has indicated firearm ownership and the u