Gun Safety Management with Patients at Risk for Suicide

Program in Psychiatry and Law, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA.
Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior (Impact Factor: 1.4). 11/2007; 37(5):518-26. DOI: 10.1521/suli.2007.37.5.518
Source: PubMed


Guns in the home are associated with a five-fold increase in suicide. All patients at risk for suicide must be asked if guns are available at home or easily accessible elsewhere, or if they have intent to buy or purchase a gun. Gun safety management requires a collaborative team approach including the clinician, patient, and designated person responsible for removing guns from the home. A call-back to the clinician from the designated person is required confirming that guns have been removed and secured according to plan. The principle of gun safety management applies to outpatients, inpatients, and emergency patients, although its implementation varies according to the clinical setting.

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    • "One such risk factor is the possession of a personal firearm. Simon (2007) found that suicide was five times more common among gun owning households than nongun owning households. More specifically, Brent (2001) found that suicide rates were higher in households keeping their guns loaded and unlocked, relative to both households where guns were unloaded and locked and nongun owning households. "

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    • "Living in a home where firearms are present is a risk factor for household members to commit suicide[40-42]. Given the familiarity with and access to firearms that stems from military experience, limiting access to firearms among female and male veterans alike should be pursued as one strategy for prevention[43]. In fact in 2008, the Department of Veterans Affairs published a safety plan manual to give physicians structured guidance for how to identify veterans who were considering suicide and to take actions to reduce their risk[44]. The manual includes guidance for asking veterans about whether they have access to a gun and then making arrangements to secure the weapon. "
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