Jun 29, 2021
This study will provide the first estimates of the association between access to firearms and suicide risk among racial and ethnic minorities.
White men dominate suicide statistics in the United States. This has long obscured the fact that many members of racial and ethnic minorities also die this way—more than 6,000 by suicide and 2,500 by firearm suicides each year. Relatively little is known about patterns of and risk factors for these deaths.
The study will use the LongSHOT cohort, which follows nearly 29 million adult residents of California over 12 years. One set of analyses will focus on personal handgun ownership, comparing suicide rates among handgun owners within each of five race/ethnicity groups (Hispanic, Non-Hispanic; Black, Asian, White) with rates among non-handgun-owners in those same groups. Another set of analyses will focus on households, comparing suicide rates in homes with handguns with suicide rates in gun-free homes—and again, making these comparisons within race/ethnicity groups. Differences in suicide rates between the exposed and unexposed will be interpreted as the risk of access to lawfully-owned handguns.
Establishing an understanding of the relationship between firearm ownership and suicide risk fills an important knowledge gap. Discovering how one of the most important risk known factors for suicides affects minorities will inform suicide prevention efforts in these populations.
David Studdert is Professor of Law and Medicine at Stanford University, and Senior Associate Vice Provost there in the Office of the Dean of Research. He teaches Torts and Health Law. Dr. Studdert’s research explores how the legal system influences the health and well-being of populations. He has a special interest in injuries and has led the LongSHOT study of firearm violence since 2016.