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Responses to Screening for Suicide Risk May Differ for Gun Owners

When probability of suicide attempt increases, gun owners may be less likely to endorse survey items about passive, active suicidal ideation

FRIDAY, May 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Gun owners and non-gun owners have different probabilities of endorsement of Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors Interview-Revised (SITBI-R) items, according to a study published online May 11 in JAMA Network Open.

Craig J. Bryan, Psy.D., from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, and colleagues collected data from March to April 2020 from U.S. adults to examine patterns of associations among suicidal thoughts and behaviors among 9,153 adults who responded to a firearm ownership item during an online survey about suicidal ideation and behaviors.

Of the participants, 30.3 and 69.7 percent reported owning a gun and not owning a gun, respectively. The researchers found that using simple latent class analysis (LCA), five distinct patterns of SITBI-R item endorsement were extracted. The probability of SITBI-R item endorsement differed between gun owners and non-gun owners across subgroups in multigroup LCA. The probability of past-month nonfatal suicide attempts was higher in class 4 among gun owners; they were characterized by high probabilities of endorsing thoughts about specific ways or methods to attempt suicide and preparatory behavior (both 100 percent). The probability of past-month nonfatal suicide attempts was highest in class 5 among non-gun owners; they were characterized by high probabilities of endorsing passive suicidal ideation (84.0 to 100 percent), active suicidal ideation (86.7 to 95.0 percent), and thoughts about specific ways or methods to attempt suicide and a specific place to attempt suicide (97.4 and 92.1 percent, respectively).

“Not everyone experiences suicidal ideation in the same way. So, maybe our traditional ways of asking about suicidal thoughts are incomplete,” Bryan said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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