Erin R. Morgan, MS; Anthony Gomez, BS; Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH; Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, MD, PhD
Acknowledgment: The authors thankful personnel at Public Health—Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health for their contributions. They also thank the directors and leadership of the local and state public health departments for their dedicated support and encouragement.
Financial Support: State-added questions on firearms were funded by Clark County Public Health, Kitsap Public Health District, Public Health—Seattle & King County, Snohomish Health District, Spokane Regional Health District, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, and the Washington State Department of Health. This study was funded by Grandmothers Against Gun Violence. Data from the BRFSS are made available by the Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and supported in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cooperative agreements U58/SO000047-3 , U58/DP006066-01 , and NU58/DP006066-02-02 ).
Disclosures: Disclosures can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M18-3698.
Reproducible Research Statement: Study protocol: Available at www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/DataSystems/BehavioralRiskFactorSurveillanceSystemBRFSS. Statistical code: Available from Ms. Morgan (e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org). Data set: Available from https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/opinio/s?s=BRFSSDataOrderForm.
Table 1. Demographic Characteristics of Washington Residents Aged 65 Years or Older, by Household Firearm Ownership and Storage Practices*
Table 2. Prevalence of Suicide Risk Factors and Indicators of Memory Loss, by Household Firearm Ownership and Storage Practices*
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Salem Medical Center
April 19, 2019
"Safe" firearm storage
The authors evidence a bias in their definition of what constitutes "safe" gun storage. If an individual chooses to own a firearm for the reason of protection of themselves/their family and their property then storing a firearm unloaded and locked away renders it useless for that purpose. If someone chooses to own a firearm for that reason - which is perfectly valid and legal - then it is perjorative to them to suggest that they are not storing their firearms in as "safe" a manner as other firearm owners. This is what is explicitly stated in the article and it is inappropriate. The true definition of "safe" is a subjective one that depends on the individual firearm owner's situation and personal beliefs/choices.
Alan R. Ertle
Emeritus Enterprises, LLC
August 6, 2019
Household Firearm Ownership: Does it Make a Difference in the Elderly Suicide Rate?
I read the article by Morgan and colleagues with interest. Approximately 1% of Americans will die by suicide (1). Older men and women show the highest suicide rate in almost all countries, including those with very limited access to firearms such as Japan and China where the rate of suicide in the elderly is nearly three times that found in the United States (2,3). The authors cite the article by Angelmeyer and colleagues that concludes that the access to firearms is associated with risk for completed suicide and being the victim of homicide (4). However, this article was not specific to the elderly and thus makes it quite difficult to extrapolate to that population. The authors conclude, “…limiting access to lethal weapons for the older adult population represents an important avenue for suicide prevention.” Based on this study, it is impossible for the authors to conclude this. There is no evidence that limiting access to firearms would change the overall rate of suicide in the elderly in the US. Limited access to firearms might reduce the risk of suicide by firearms, but there is no evidence to support that the overall suicide rate would be reduced. This is supported by the higher rates of suicide in the elderly in countries with exceptionally limited access to firearms. With their logic, one should limit access to acetaminophen, ropes, automobiles, stairs, knives, bathtubs and a whole host of other potential suicide risks.
Morgan ER, Gomez A, Rivara FP, Rowhani-Rahbar A. Household Firearm Ownership and Storage, Suicide Risk Factors, and Memory Loss Among Older Adults: Results From a Statewide Survey. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 16 April 2019]171:220–222. doi: 10.7326/M18-3698
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2019;171(3):220-222.
Published at www.annals.org on 16 April 2019
Geriatric Medicine, Neurology.
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