Gun access heightens risk of suicide, murder

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A new study finds that people with access to a gun are three times more likely to commit suicide and almost twice as likely to be murderedDavid Hemenway of Harvard School of Public Health — who wrote an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine to accompany the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study — said that the results suggest that people should try to limit access to firearms for a friend or loved one going through a rough patch or emotional turmoil.

“If someone’s going through a bad period, you should at least lock the gun up — or, even better, get the gun out of the house — until things get better,” said Hemenway, professor of health policy at HSPH and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, in a January 20, 2014 HealthDay article.

In his editorial, Hemenway said the UCSF study findings are likely too conservative in estimating the relationship between guns, suicide and homicide, although he said the authors “aptly summarize the evidence that, for most families, bringing a gun into the home substantially increases the risk for suicide for all family members and the risk for women being murdered in the home.”