People who purchase a firearm all the way through the pandemic are much more likely to be suicidal than other firearm owners, according to a study by Rutgers University researchers.
The study, published in the American Publication of Preventive Medicine, found that approximately 70 per cent of those who bought a firearm all the way through the Covid-19 pandemic reported having suicidal thoughts right through their lives, in comparison to 37 per cent of the remainder of the community of gun owners.
“People who were motivated to purchase firearms all the way through Covid-19 might have been driven by anxiety that leaves them vulnerable to suicidal ideation,” said Michael Anestis, executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Centre and an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health.
“While this doesn’t warranty an increase in suicide rates, it represents an unusually large surge in risk made more troubling by the truth that firearms purchased all the way through Covid-19 may remain in homes beyond the pandemic.”
According to Anestis, more than 2.5 million Americans became first-time gun owners all the way through the first four months of 2020, with an estimated two million firearms purchased alone in March 2020 when the initial surge of the coronavirus pandemic began.
“Firearm owners are normally no much more likely than non-firearm owners to experience suicidal thoughts. It is imaginable that a higher-risk group is driving the current firearm purchasing surge, introducing long-term suicide risk into the homes of individuals who another way won’t have acquired firearms all the way through a time of extended social isolation, economic uncertainty and general upheaval,” Anestis said.
In the Rutgers study, researchers surveyed 3,500 Americans, about one-third of whom were firearm owners, and asked approximately their reasons for purchasing a gun all the way through the pandemic, their methods of gun storage and if they had ever experienced thoughts of suicide. The study looked at three groups: people who were existing firearm owners who did not purchase a firearm all the way through the pandemic, people who purchased a firearm all the way through the pandemic and non-firearm owners.
The study found that, of those who bought a firearm all the way through the pandemic, 70 per cent had experienced suicidal thoughts right through their lives, 56 per cent had experienced suicidal thoughts all the way through the preceding year and 25 per cent had experienced suicidal thoughts all the way through the preceding month. By contrast, individuals who did not buy guns all the way through the pandemic were only 56 per cent, 24 per cent and 12 per cent respectively likely to have had suicidal thoughts all the way through those time periods.
People who purchased a firearm all the way through the pandemic also were found to be much more likely to have storage habits that made the firearms less protected, such as switching between unloading their firearms and loading them before storage; the use of locking devices and then removing them, or switching between storing a firearm inside and outside the home.
“The increase in firearm purchases is concerning for the reason that suicide is three times much more likely in homes with firearms, and there’s a hundred-fold increase in an individual’s suicide risk immediately following the purchase of a handgun,” said Anestis. “And unsafe firearm storage increases that risk.”
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
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