Access to Firearms Raises Suicide, Homicide Risk

MARCH 04, 2014
Frank J. Domino, MD

Frank J. Domino, MD

Review

Anglemyer A, Horvath T, Rutherford G. The accessibility of firearms and risk for suicide and homicide victimization among household members: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med 2014;160(2):101-10. http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1814426

Study Methods

This systematic review evaluated studies involving access to firearms with an expectation to calculate the odds ratio of suicide and homicide based upon gun accessibility. 

Results and Outcomes

An initial literature search yielded nearly 7,000 references, but only 16 of them met the inclusion criteria. Across those studies, there was no restriction on patient age, gender, or location.
 
The authors recorded the following observations:
  • Suicide decedents were most commonly male.
  • Access to firearms played a significant role with regard to suicide completion.
  • Most of the subjects who completed suicide were white, whereas most homicide victims were non-Hispanic black or another race.
  • Studies based in the United States, where firearms are far more accessible than in any other developed nation, demonstrated the proportion of completed suicides using a firearm ranged from 47-73%, compared to non-US based studies where firearms were involved in only 13% of completed suicides.
  • The presence of firearms in the home triggered a significantly higher suicide risk than homes without firearms.
  • Access to firearms in the home significantly raised the odds of homicide victimization, with a pooled odds ratio of 1.41.
  • Subgroup analysis demonstrated women had significantly higher odds of homicide victimization than men.
  • Women were more frequently murdered in the home compared to outside of the home.
Conclusion

Access to firearms significantly increased the risk for suicide completion and homicide victimization.

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