Importance: Firearm access is associated with risk for suicide, and, since early 2020, the US has experienced an unprecedented surge in firearm sales. Objective: To assess frequency of suicidal ideation among individuals who purchased firearms during the surge period (surge purchasers), other firearm owners, and non-firearm owners. Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional online survey data were collected from January to June 2021. Participants were recruited via quota sampling through Qualtrics Panels. Within Minnesota, zip codes from Minneapolis and St Paul were oversampled. Participants included 6404 US adults recruited from 3 states: New Jersey (n = 3197), Minnesota (n = 1789), and Mississippi (n = 1418). Participants identified as becoming a first-time firearm owner during the surge period, being an established firearm owner who purchased a firearm during the surge period, being a firearm owner who did not buy firearms during the surge period, and not owning firearms. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were lifetime, past year, and past month suicidal ideation as measured by the Self-injurious Thoughts and Behaviors Interview - Revised. Results: The mean (SD) age within the full sample was 44.81 (18.45) years, with 3132 males (48.8%), 4706 White adults (73.4%), 2674 reporting annual household income less than $50000 (41.7%), and 1546 (24.1%) reporting current firearm ownership. In the full sample, individuals who purchased firearms during the surge period were more likely than were non-firearm owners to report lifetime suicidal ideation (odds ratio [OR], 2.21; 95% CI, 1.82-2.68), past-year suicidal ideation (OR, 2.10; 95% CI, 1.72-2.55), and past-month suicidal ideation (OR, 1.80; 95% CI, 1.41-2.29). In addition, among individuals who purchased firearms during the surge period, first-time owners were more likely than established firearm owners to report lifetime suicidal ideation (OR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.43-3.14) and past-year suicidal ideation (OR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.59-3.53). Results were largely consistent across states. Conclusions and Relevance: In this survey study, results highlighted that individuals who acquired firearms during the purchasing surge were more likely than other firearm owners and non-firearm owners to have experienced suicidal thoughts. This is particularly true for individuals who purchased a firearm for the first time during the surge period. This illustrates the need to implement policies and interventions that increase safety among firearm purchasers (eg, safe firearm storage) as well as those that promote the acquisition of alternative forms of protection (eg, home alarm systems).
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||JAMA Network Open|
|State||Published - Oct 29 2021|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes