Perceptions of firearms and suicide: The role of misinformation in storage practices and openness to means safety measures

Michael D. Anestis, Sarah E. Butterworth, Claire Houtsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Firearm ownership and unsafe storage increase risk for suicide. Little is known regarding factors that influence storage practices and willingness to engage in means safety. Methods Utilizing Amazon's Mechanical Turk program, we recruited an online sample of 300 adults living in the US who own at least one firearm. Firearm storage practices and openness to means safety measures were assessed using items designed for this study. Data were collected and analyzed in 2017. Results Firearms stored in non-secure locations and without a locking device were associated with lower beliefs in the relationship between firearm storage and suicide risk. Fearlessness about death moderated the association between current secure versus non-secure storage and beliefs regarding firearm storage and suicide risk, in that storage practices and beliefs were more strongly related at higher levels of fearlessness about death. For both secure and locked storage of a firearm, there was a significant indirect effect of current storage practices on willingness to engage in means safety in the future through current beliefs regarding the relationship between firearm storage and suicide risk. Unsafe storage practices were largely associated with an unwillingness to store firearms more safely or to allow a trusted peer to temporarily store the firearm outside the home in order to prevent their own or someone else's suicide. Limitations Self-report and cross-sectional data were used. Results may not generalize to non-firearm owners. Conclusions Firearm owners are prone to inaccurate beliefs about the relationship between firearms and suicide. These beliefs may influence both current firearm storage practices and the willingness to engage in means safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)530-535
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume227
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Perceptions of firearms and suicide: The role of misinformation in storage practices and openness to means safety measures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this