Mental illness, previous suicidality, and access to guns in the United States

Objective: This study examined the association between mental disorders, prior suicidality, and access to guns and gun safety in the U. S. population. Methods: Using data from adult participants (N=5,692) from the National Comorbidity Survey: Replication (NCS-R), this study examined relationships between mental disorders, past suicidality, and gun access and safety practices. Results: Individuals with lifetime mental disorders (N=3,528) were as likely as those without (N=2,034) to have access to a gun (34.1% versus 36.3%; odds ratio [OR]=. 9, 95% confidence interval [CI]=.8-1.1), carry a gun (4.8% versus 5.0%; OR=1.0, CI=.7-1.40), or store a gun in an unsafe manner (6.2% versus 7.3%; OR=. 9, CI=.51.4). However, individuals with a prior suicide attempt were less likely than those without such an attempt to have access to a gun (23.8% versus 36.0%; OR=.6, CI=.5-.8). Conclusions: Given the previously established relationship between mental health risk factors and suicide, this study highlights the need to assess for gun access among high-risk individuals.