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Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk
January 20th, 2014
05:05 PM ET

Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk

Proponents of stricter gun laws have another headline to bolster their efforts: Access to firearms in the home increases the risk of violent death.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, in a review of previous studies published Monday, found strong evidence for increased odds of suicide and moderate evidence for increased odds of homicide victimization among people who keep guns at home.

Firearm ownership is more common in the United States (upwards of one-third of households) than in any other country – and firearms cause more than 31,000 deaths a year here, according to the review. Further, the annual rate of suicide by firearms in America is higher than in any other country with reported data; the annual rate of firearm-related homicides in America is the highest among high-income countries.

People who completed suicide – as well as homicide victims – were most commonly men. Most people who completed suicide were white. Most homicide victims were non-Hispanic black or another race.

“Specific characteristics about storage and types of firearms seem to increase suicide risk,” writes Andrew Anglemyer, who authored the review of 15 previous studies in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. “Firearms that are stored loaded or unlocked are more likely to be used than those that are unloaded or locked, and adolescent suicide victims often use an unlocked firearm in the home.”

Anglemyer and his team go on to note that “the availability of firearms in the home may not be the catalyst for suicidal ideation, but firearms may be a preferred method of suicide among those who have suicidal thoughts.”

They cite 2011 research that showed adolescents with firearm access were no more likely to have suicidal thoughts or a suicide plan in the past 12 months than those without firearm access. However, among adolescents with a suicide plan, those with a firearm in the home were more than seven times more likely to have a plan involving firearms than those without a firearm in the home.

“The evidence that a gun in the home increases the risk for suicide is overwhelming,” writes David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health, in an accompanying editorial, “even stronger than Anglemyer and colleagues’ robust findings.”

One reason for this, he explains, is that the UCSF team examined only individual-level studies. “Anglemyer and colleagues display an opposite and potentially equally misleading bias by excluding population-level evidence (an analysis of a population rather than an individual)," says Hemenway.

Results from ecological studies suggest that state restrictions on firearm ownership are associated with decreases in firearm-related suicides and homicides.

Since 1996, federal law has prohibited U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies from using funds for research that could be interpreted as promoting or advocating for gun control.

“Although there is little evidence that having a gun reduces the risk for homicide victimization,” writes Hemenway, “there is not yet compelling evidence that having a gun substantially increases the risk for homicide victimization for most men. What does put men at substantially increased risk for homicide victimization is other men having access to guns.”

For most families, bringing a gun into the home substantially increases the risk for suicide for all family members and the risk for women being murdered in the home, according to the study.

“Evidence not included in their review also indicates that gun in the home increases the risk for homicide victimization for others in society. This increased risk may be due to someone in the family shooting others (for example, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting) or the gun being stolen and used by criminals," Hemenway writes. "Obtaining a firearm not only endangers those living in the home but also imposes substantial costs on the community.”


soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Piersilla Morgorman

    I endorse this drivel.

    January 20, 2014 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Arturo Féliz-Camilo

    Reblogged this on Mr. Feliz's Blog (Teacher Arturo) and commented:
    Guns and suicide may be related...

    January 20, 2014 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sean Murray

    "Access to firearms in the home increases the risk of violent death" Why add the violent part? Is it because access to firearms in the home does not increase the risk of death? 2,500,000 people a year die in the US 31,000 by gun. Is gun ownership really a big problem in the US? The numbers don't seem to point to it. Wikipedia has us listed 33rd in sucide death rates out of a 110 countries. Not good but not South Korea either. No doubt that if a person is suicdal and has access to guns that use of a gun would be the easiest method. Keeping the guns unloaded and locked is not a bad idea.

    January 20, 2014 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nobody you know

      Did you actually READ the article? Doesn't sound like it.

      January 20, 2014 at 21:39 | Report abuse |
  4. rupert

    hello bloggers.
    I am rupert. I will be blogging here at times.
    I post from my heart. And I do not put up with trolls.
    Comprandie?
    Good!

    January 20, 2014 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nobody you know

      "Compande"? No, honey. Comprende, si. Comprande, no.

      January 20, 2014 at 21:13 | Report abuse |
    • chrissy

      Hi Rupert. Nice to meet you. There are interesting blogs here.

      January 22, 2014 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    Good post rupert,thank u.

    January 20, 2014 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nobody you know

      You do realize that you're outed as being "Rupert," don't you, dear?

      January 20, 2014 at 21:14 | Report abuse |
    • chrissy

      I'm Rupert also

      January 22, 2014 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      I'm Patrick and am new to this computer stuff. Do you like pizza?

      January 22, 2014 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • You ARE Nobody

      You and rupert should get a room. You keep calling him dear and honey. You should whisper it in his ear while you're alone.

      January 28, 2014 at 09:03 | Report abuse |
  6. Mark G.

    Those homes who have automobiles in their driveways have a great risk of homicide and suicide by automobile. Those homes who have rope in their homes have an increased risk of suicide by hanging. Those homes where a pool is in the back yard have an increased risk of drownings. Homes with knives in their drawers have a greater risk of someone cutting themselves or being stabbed. What exactly is it they are trying to say? This seems like another sneaky back door attempt to make gun ownership look bad and to claim that guns are more dangerous than swimming pools or automobiles or knives.

    January 21, 2014 at 02:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nobody you know

      Maybe that's because they are. Do you think the number of kids who drown in backyard pools is equal to the number who die as a result of guns in the home? Then back up that claim with stats.

      January 21, 2014 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • Mort Snerd

      @Nobody you know:

      according to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm), in 2010 (the latest year for which full stats are available)

      Children 0-14 who died as a result of accidental drowning: 726

      Children 0-14 who died as a result of accidents by firearm, suicide by firearm, or homicide by firearm *combined*: 362

      There's your "back up that claim with stats."

      January 21, 2014 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • Nobody you know

      Were all those drownings in backyard pools? None were in the neighborhood public pool? That's the claim that was made.

      January 21, 2014 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • Mort Snerd

      Correct, we don't know that all those drownings happened in backyard pools, just like we don't know that all those firearm deaths for children occurred in homes with firearms. But if we look at the data that *is* available, water is much more dangerous to children than firearms.

      January 21, 2014 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
    • Nobody you know

      The stats you posted don't prove backyard pools, cars, knives, or ropes in the home increase the risk of suicide or homicide. Can you show that they do? You haven't yet. And the fact is that the article isn't comparing those other things to guns–it's simply saying that the presence of guns in the home increases the risk of violent death. Can you prove that isn't true?

      January 21, 2014 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
    • Ike

      Hey Mark,

      Let's not forget those homes with DRUGS in them!!!

      I am sure that the # of Suicides by Overdose, would be MUCH lower if people didn't have Drugs in their homes.

      Maybe we could outlaw having drugs in the home and only allow them to be stored in secure facilities where multiple ID is required to gain access to them???

      And how about accidental Deaths caused by ODiing??? How many of those could be stopped by limiting access to drugs???

      This article does nothing but to state the OBVIOUS!!
      Its obvious that more availability to a Firearm is going to raise the possibility that a suicidal person might use one to commit suicide, BUT the fact remains that IF they want to commit suicide, guess what????? They will find a way!!!
      DOH

      January 22, 2014 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • Ike

      @ NObody:
      "The stats you posted don't prove backyard pools, cars, knives, or ropes in the home increase the risk of suicide or homicide."

      Well the stats in the article ONLLY say there are 31,000 firearms deaths a year, they DON'T Break them down into in the home, in the workplace,.... NOW DO THEY, soooooo your argument is MOOT!!!

      And You claim that GUNS don't save lives, I would like you to go ask some people in the military if GUNS save lives!!!

      There are hundreds of news stories every year where a gun has saved a persons life, case in point the Grocery Store robbery in (I think it was Connecticut) where the robber threatened to KILL EVERYBODY, he was shot and killed by an armed customer, thereby saving over 6 lives!! SOOOOOO did that gun save any lives???? HMMMM or was that just MAGIC that killed the bad guy?????

      January 22, 2014 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Most people don't realize over 80 percent of all drownings occur in or around water. If people would avoid water they might be safer.

      January 22, 2014 at 16:13 | Report abuse |
    • bill

      I think the point is that if you chose to have fire arms in your house that somebody you care about has a very real chance of getting hurt. children or teenagers can be irrational or just plain stupid. Guns can do a lot of damage very quickly and putting those two things in such close proximity might cause you pain and if you compared that pain to the amount of joy or protection you feel by owning a weapon you might decide its not worth the cost. Its more of a personal decision than a reason to restrict fire arms.

      January 23, 2014 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
  7. Mort Snerd

    "and firearms cause more than 31,000 deaths a year here"

    from the same source:

    Motor vehicle traffic deaths: 33,687 (should we get rid of cars? It would save more lives!)
    All poisoning deaths: 42,917 (should we get rid of chemicals? It would save more lives!)

    January 21, 2014 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nobody you know

      Did anyone say you had to get rid of your guns? Where in this article did that occur? It's a study. It studied the rate of violent death in homes with guns and showed that the risk appeared to be higher than in homes without them. Can you prove that's inaccurate?

      January 21, 2014 at 12:00 | Report abuse |
    • Mort Snerd

      I did not make any assumptions about "getting rid of guns." Also, I cannot prove your stance is inaccurate. What I can do is challenge the validity of the accompanying statement from the article, "Obtaining a firearm not only endangers those living in the home but also imposes substantial costs on the community.”

      First, as far as the 31,000 firearm deaths go, over 19,000 of them are suicides. The CDC studied the effects of guns on suicide. They found that when firearms are made more difficult to acquire, the rate of firearm suicide goes down... however the rate of other means of suicide goes up, such that the overall suicide rate remains practically unchanged.

      Furthermore, what the study has essentially done is a cost/benefit analysis... without looking at the benefits. According to the Kleck study, private citizens use firearms *lawfully* to defend people in the US up to 2.5 million times a year. If only 1% of those events results in a life saved, then 25,000 lives a year are saved by firearms vs. the 10,000 non-suicide firearms deaths.

      If the goal is to lower deaths, there are other, lower-hanging "fruit."

      January 21, 2014 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • Nobody you know

      You claim that guns "save lives." I disagree. You have no idea if "even 1% of those events result in a life saved" at all. You'd like to believe that's the case because you don't want to have any additional gun laws.

      The "cost/benefit" analysis you've made is faulty, and is especially so if you're trying to do what the OP did in comparing pools and cars and the risks they pose with those posed by guns in the home. What benefit do guns provide, other than the ability to kill other people?

      January 21, 2014 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • Ike

      @ NObody:

      Maybe the PREMIS of the article will help you understand:

      "Proponents of stricter gun laws have another headline to bolster their efforts: Access to firearms in the home increases the risk of violent death."

      See the key words there "Proponents of STRICTER GUN LAWS"!!! Just in case you haven't figured it out yet THOSE proponents want us to NOT have any firearms in our homes!!!! DUH

      January 22, 2014 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
    • bill

      I like cars, If they made it illegal to own or drive Ferrari's I would object to it. But to be completely honest I don't need to get to 60mph in 3 seconds or drive at 200mph and my own joy shouldn't put other people in danger. Just like people don't need to be able to fire 20, 30 or 40 rounds of ammunition without having to reload or own so many weapons that they wouldn't realize if one went missing. Your lucky enough to live in a country where people aren't shooting at you all the time. If you want to be shot at and or live in fear of your life there are plenty of countries where you could have it.

      January 23, 2014 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
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    January 21, 2014 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. banasy©

    Hi

    January 21, 2014 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Patrick

      Hi Banasy. I hope you are having a happy day. Do you like pizza?

      January 22, 2014 at 16:15 | Report abuse |
  10. patriciaange

    Reblogged this on Sex and Relationships.

    January 22, 2014 at 05:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Tony

    Basically, if someone in your home is suicidal, get them help. I don't see what this has to do with guns.

    January 22, 2014 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eeyore

      Because of this: "They cite 2011 research that showed adolescents with firearm access were no more likely to have suicidal thoughts or a suicide plan in the past 12 months than those without firearm access. However, among adolescents with a suicide plan, those with a firearm in the home were more than seven times more likely to have a plan involving firearms than those without a firearm in the home."

      January 22, 2014 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
  12. vitaedrinker

    So the study found that "adolescents with firearm access were no more likely to have suicidal thoughts or a suicide plan in the past 12 months than those without firearm access. However, among adolescents with a suicide plan, those with a firearm in the home were more than seven times more likely to have a plan involving firearms than those without a firearm in the home." And that means what, exactly? I'm sure if they compared prescription drugs, they would most likely find a similar correlation. Or knives. Or ropes. Or razorblades. Or drain cleaner. Or gas ovens. Or cars. In other words, being tool users humans will use the tools at hand to accomplish their tasks.

    Gotcha. We call that the rule of "duh."

    January 22, 2014 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Colonist

    I think that this is a very misleading and inaccurate portrayal of gun ownership. Now I am no criminal but if I were and I was looking at two homes and deciding which one I might rob, enter unlawfully, rape an inhabitant or whatever the case my be; and one home has a "Don't Tread On Me" flag out front and the other one says that it has ADT or Brinks home security. I sure as hell wouldn't be breaking into the one that has the flag because I know that there are guns in the house. I guarantee that if someone knows that there are guns in the house that may be used against them they will probably think twice about that decision and opt out. Now as far as people using guns to kill themselves. That is a mental health issue and should be treated as such. If guns were never invented they would just use knives or any of the other tools that have already been stated. As far as that goes public shootings would be just known as public killings if guns weren't there. The people that think they have a point to prove or vendetta of some sort are going to do it by any means they feel necessary. What if someone was going around with a hatchet or a machete killing people in a very crowded public place just making a mess out of things and there was nobody with a gun to stop it? Are you going to go hand to machete with this person to stop them? Probably not. Now if some gun toting, country loving hick has his pistol on him; he is going to end the massacre. I can promise you that. Having stricter gun laws have never kept guns out of the hands of those that intend to do harm with them either. Look at Chicago for instance. It has some of the strictest gun laws on the books and one of the highest crime rates where a firearm is used. 100 years ago it was normal for just about everyone to carry a gun. Now if you live in a state where open carry is allowed and you decide to exercise that right people look at you like you are dangerous. I will tell you this though if you are ever in a situation where some crazy person is killing everyone around you; you will wish that there was a law abiding, proud citizen there to stop the situation. I have noticed that most of the people that are advocating stricter gun laws have never even shot a gun and are just afraid of them for the potential that they have but refuse to see the joy they can be and what good they can do. I like to shoot targets and it is something that takes practice and a honing of skills. Look at the Olympic biathlon; It combines skiing and shooting. Not all guns are for killing. There is one more thing that I want to add. Members of congress' children and Presidential Children, etc. all go to schools where there are armed guards. Is it really that hard to stop school shootings when we have many capable veterans here at home that do not have jobs that would be proud to protect children. Seriously this isn't that hard, place an armed veteran or two or three at all schools and a I bet the school shootings stop. A very simple solution to a major problem.

    January 22, 2014 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bill

      The problem with solving a gun problem with more guns is that with every gun you bring into the situation you create another scenario for a potentially bad outcome as well as a good one. You would think that a gun owner who understands the potential harm a gun could do depending on its target or handler would want A. to know that all other gun holders would be held accountable for any damage the guns they owned did and B. when they sold a weapon it could be proven it was no longer theirs any more and that the person they sold it to was legally allowed to own it. I don't see how that infringes anybody s rights. Plus it protects gun owners from possibly been accused of any wrong doing.

      January 23, 2014 at 13:22 | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      The U.S. has the highest rate of gun ownership in the industrialized world. You'd think we'd have the lowest rate of violent crime, but we have the highest.

      You would THINK criminals would be discouraged from entering ANY home in the U.S. due to our high rate of gun ownership, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. What DOES happen, is when a criminal breaks into a home they're more likely to bring a weapon because they know how armed a society we are. When you think someone will have a gun, you bring a gun. In other words, guns escalate violence. See how that works?

      January 30, 2014 at 21:37 | Report abuse |
  14. Treyborn Thompson

    One must learn to stay hydrated, even during cooler temperatures.

    January 22, 2014 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Bill C

    IGNORANT

    January 23, 2014 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. jujubeans

    I'm trying to get a grant to see if guillotines in the home have the same effect.

    January 29, 2014 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply

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