Health Services Research & Development

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Valenstein M, Walters H, Pfeiffer PN, Ganoczy D, Ilgen MA, Miller MJ, Fiorillo M, Bossarte RM. Possession of Household Firearms and Firearm-Related Discussions with Clinicians Among Veterans Receiving VA Mental Health Care. Archives of suicide research : official journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research. 2019 Feb 8; 1-20.
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Abstract: 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.