Possession of Household Firearms and Firearm-Related Discussions with Clinicians Among Veterans Receiving VA Mental Health Care

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Possession of Household Firearms and Firearm-Related Discussions with Clinicians Among Veterans Receiving VA Mental Health Care

Category: Firearm Availability, Suicide|Journal: Archives of Suicide Research|Author: D Ganoczy, H Walters, M Fiorillo, M Ilgen, M Miller, M Valenstein, P Pfeiffer, R Bossarte|Year: 2019

Objectives

To assess possession of household firearms among veterans receiving mental health care and the frequency of their discussions with clinicians about firearms.

 

Methods

We surveyed random samples of veterans receiving mental health care in each of five purposively chosen, geographically diverse VA facilities; 677 (50% of recipients) responded.

 

Results

45.3% (95% CI 41.2, 49.3) of veteran respondents reported household firearms; 46.9% of those with suicidal thoughts and 55.6% with a suicide plan had household firearms. Only 27.5% of all veteran respondents and 44% of those with recent suicidal ideation and household firearms had had a firearm-related discussion with a clinician.

 

Discussion

Many veterans receiving mental health care can readily access firearms, a highly lethal means for suicide. Increasing clinician-patient discussions and health system efforts to reduce firearm access might reduce suicide in this clinical population.

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