Most suicides (60%) are committed with firearms, and most (80%) of individuals attempting suicide meet diagnostic criteria for mental illness. This study assessed the prevalence of firearm injury prevention training in psychiatric residency programs. Methods: A three-wave mail survey was sent to the directors of 179 psychiatric residency programs. Outcome measures were the portion of programs offering training in anticipatory guidance for firearms safety, the content of training if offered, and the perceived benefits and barriers to providing such training.
A total of 115 directors responded, a response rate of 64%. The vast majority (79%) reported they had not seriously thought about providing firearm injury prevention training. However, more than half(55%) reported that they routinely screened patients for firearm ownership. The directors perceived more benefits than barriers to offering such training. Additionally, the majority (62%) thought APA should provide curriculum guidelines regarding firearm injury prevention training.
Psychiatrists are uniquely positioned for helping to prevent firearm suicides and homicides among the mentally ill. However, psychiatric residency programs are inadequately training residents and thereby keeping them from maximizing their roles as mental health professionals. Leadership is needed by APA to help reduce firearm violence in the United States.