Teens with access to guns have a higher risk of suicide, study warns

CHICAGO — Teens who have access to a gun are more likely to have a history of attempting suicide or having suicidal thoughts, according to a new study. Researchers from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago found that one-third of all adolescents entering the emergency room had moderate to severe symptoms of depression. Concerningly, 40 percent of these children had access to a firearm.

Specifically, study authors say the odds of a teen attempting suicide in the past were 1.5 times higher among kids who could get a hold of a gun immediately within their home or within a 24-hour period.

“Our findings underscore the importance of screening all adolescents who present to the ED for suicide risk and access to firearms,” says lead author Samaa Kemal, MD, MPH, a pediatric emergency medicine fellow, in a media release. “This is even more critical now that we are in the midst of a youth mental health crisis.”

According to the researchers, the Joint Commission requires all children over 12 to receive a screening for suicide risk. If doctors discover such a risk, the commission recommends that a second screening look into that child’s access to firearms. Unfortunately, the study authors say that second screening is often inconsistent in emergency departments.

Suicide rates are rising among children

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among U.S. adolescents. Moreover, the child suicide rate has nearly doubled over the last decade. Between 2015 and 2020, the study notes that 44 percent of suicides among 14 to 18-year-olds involved a gun. Seven in 10 suicide attempts involved firearms that the child obtained within their own home.

The study examined data involving more than 15,000 patients between 14 and 18 admitted to a children’s hospital emergency room between June 2013 and March 2020. Results show 14 percent of these children had relatively easy access to a firearm.

A history of sexual assault also increased the odds of attempting suicide. Meanwhile, young patients who reported verbal bullying, intimate partner violence, or abuse by a caregiver had a higher risk of having suicidal thoughts.

“Universal mental health screening of adolescents is particularly important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to both increased firearm availability and worsening indicators of youth mental health,” Dr. Kemal concludes. “Proper screening for both suicidality and firearm access can create the opportunity to offer effective firearm safety counseling, such as keeping all firearms locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition, as well as linkage to mental health resources. We must do everything possible to prevent tragic deaths among teens who are struggling.”

A recent study revealed that the number one cause of death among American children is now gun violence. That figure includes homicides, suicides, and unintentional deaths.

The study is published in the journal Academic Pediatrics.

Comments

  1. I don’t believe this to be accurate, as not all teens are suicidal, and all teens with access to firearms for hunting or sport shooting are suicidal.

  2. I don’t believe this to be accurate, as all teens are not suicidal, and all teens with access to firearms for hunting or sport shooting are not suicidal.

  3. This is exactly the reason I say. any gun owner who leaves a gun UNSECURED and that gun is found and misused by anyone the penalties should be extremely severe to the OWNER!

    In addition to that Parent’s especially who are so irresponsible that they leave a firearm where any unauthorized person , Juvenile, Mentally ill, Felon whatever, and that gun is used in the commission of a crime, suicide etc etc. the owner parent should be charged along with the perpetrator. At leased punishment that fits the CRIME and /or incident! I’ve been a firearms instructor for many years . I preach HOMES with children especially must MAINTAIN SECURITY, on ALL firearms. and as soon as their children reach (12) yrs old “NOT before” they should be allowed to attend and pass a firearm safety course by a credible certified instructor.

    I also feel that every first time gun BUYER should be required to attend a firearm safety course.
    I offer this suggestion as a retired Marine Corps Combat Veteran, High Risk Security agent Father and concerned citizen. “I do NOT agree with punishing all law biding gun owners!”
    That is NOT the answer. Like PEACE we would all love a peaceful world. Unfortunately we have too many crazies like PUTIN!

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