November 30, 2021

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Alcohol Policies, Firearms Policies, and Suicide in the United States

Alcohol and firearms are commonly implicated in suicide in the United States, and less restrictive alcohol and firearms policies are associated with binge drinking and violent deaths, respectively. . However, little is known about the relationship between alcohol and firearms policies and suicides involving alcohol, firearms, or both. The authors of a to study published today in BMC Public Health find that more restrictive alcohol and firearms policies are associated with lower rates and odds of suicides involving alcohol or firearms, as well as alcohol and firearms. fire. Read their blog below.

Background

Alcohol and guns are a dangerous combination and are often implicated in suicide in the United States. This has only grown in importance as a public health issue as alcohol consumption, gun sales and suicides in the United States have all increased since the start of the covid pandemic. 19. State alcohol policies and state firearms policies may have an impact on alcohol and firearm-related suicides, but it is not known how these policies relate specifically to these suicides. or how these policies might interact with each other.

The study

We conducted a cross-sectional study to assess the relationships between alcohol policies, gun policies, and suicides in the United States in 2015 involving alcohol, guns, or both. We used the Alcohol Policy Scale, previously created and validated by our team, to assess alcohol policies and the Giffords Law Center Gun Law Dashboard to quantify policies. relating to firearms. Data on suicide came from the National Reporting System for Violent Deaths. The GEE Poisson and state- and individual-level logistic regression models assessed the relationships between policies and firearm and / or alcohol-related suicides with a one-year lag.

Results

Higher scores on alcohol and firearms law were associated with reduced incidence rates and odds of suicides involving either alcohol or firearms.

In the United States in 2015, alcohol and / or firearms were involved in 63.9% of suicides. Higher scores on alcohol and firearms law were associated with reduced incidence rates and risks of suicides involving either alcohol or firearms. For example, a 10% increase in alcohol policy score was associated with a 28% reduction in the rate of suicides involving alcohol or firearms. Likewise, a 10% increase in the firearms policy score was associated with a 14% decrease in the suicide rate involving firearms.

These relationships were similar for suicides involving alcohol and firearms. For example, a 10% increase in alcohol policy score was associated with a 52% reduction in the rate of suicides involving alcohol and firearms. A 10% increase in the firearms policy score was associated with a 26% reduction in the rate of alcohol and firearm-related suicides.

Additionally, we found synergistic effects between alcohol and firearms policies, such that states with restrictive policies for both alcohol and firearms had the lowest probabilities of suicide. involving alcohol and firearms.

Conclusions and next steps

Study results suggest laws restricting the possession of firearms among high-risk people, including those who drink excessively or have been victims of alcohol-related criminal offenses, may reduce suicides. by firearm.

We found that restrictive alcohol and firearms policies were associated with lower rates and odds of alcohol-related suicides or firearms, alcohol, and firearms and our research suggests that alcohol and gun policies may be a promising way to reduce suicide. These protective relationships were particularly striking for suicides involving both alcohol and firearms, as well as in the strong protective interaction between alcohol and firearms policy variables, especially for suicides involving alcohol. These findings, taken in the context of the larger literature, also suggest that laws restricting the possession of firearms among high-risk individuals (the so-called “ may issue ” laws), including those that drink excessively or who have been victims of alcohol-related criminal offenses, can reduce suicides by firearms.

As this was a cross-sectional analysis, it should be viewed as a hypothesis-generating study that cannot prove a causal association between alcohol or firearms policies and suicide. In future research, studies using several years of suicide policy and data would strengthen causal inference.

Stricter alcohol and gun policies are a promising way to prevent a leading and growing cause of death in the United States.

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