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Safer storage of firearms at home and risk of suicide: a study of protective factors in a nationally representative sample
  1. Edmond D Shenassa1,2,
  2. Michelle L Rogers2,
  3. Kirsten L Spalding1,
  4. Mary B Roberts2
  1. 1Department of Community Health, Brown Medical School, Providence, USA
  2. 2Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, Brown Medical School and the Miriam Hospital, Providence, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Assistant Professor, E D Shenassa
 Department of Community Health and Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, Brown Medical School, One Hoppin Street, Suite 500, Providence, RI 02903, USA;


Objective: To estimate the protective effect of storing firearms locked or unloaded, or both, on the risk of suicide by firearms among people with relatively low intention to die.

Design and setting: Cross sectional survey. The 1993 National Mortality Followback Survey of 22 957 deaths in the United States, representing 2.2 million people, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Participants: Decedent’s next of kin answered questions regarding various aspects of decedent’s life to supplement information from death certificates.

Main results: Compared with decedents who stored their firearm unlocked or loaded, those who stored their firearms locked or unloaded, or both, were less likely to commit suicide by firearms (locked: OR = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.24 to 0.66; unloaded OR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.18 to 0.49).

Conclusions: This study further supports the utility of devices and practices intended to reduce the likelihood of unauthorised or impulsive use of firearms.

  • firearms
  • suicide
  • suicide prevention
  • gun control
  • community health

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  • * In the NMFS, suicide by airgun (E955.6) was included in a category containing E-codes E954, E955.5-E959, and therefore could not be classified with suicides by firearm.

  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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