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Most Firearm Suicides Not Tied to Mental Illness, Substance Use

HealthDay News
Updated: Jul 10th 2017

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MONDAY, July 10, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Few individuals with history of a mental health or substance use condition, or those who have a previous suicide attempt, commit firearm suicide, according to a research letter published online July 3 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Jennifer M. Boggs, M.S.W., from the Kaiser Permanente Colorado-Institute for Health Research in Denver, and colleagues examined data for 2,674 adults and adolescents in eight integrated health systems who died by suicide between 2000 and 2013. The authors identified a group who had a history of any mental health or substance use condition and another who had previous suicide attempts.

The researchers found that 54.7 percent of those who died by suicide had a mental health or substance use condition, and 42.8 percent of them with one of these conditions used a firearm. Only 10.9 percent of those who died by suicide had previously attempted suicide; 37.5 percent had used a firearm in their death. More individuals without a mental health or substance use condition used firearms in their death (671 versus 627). More individuals without a previous suicide attempt used firearms in their death (1,189 versus 109). Among those who died by suicide with a firearm, only 4.1 and 23.5 percent had previously attempted suicide and had a mental health or substance use condition, respectively.

"Prevention of firearm suicide should be expanded beyond the current focus on these patients to include other persons at risk for suicide," the authors write.

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