Veterans, Firearms, and Suicide: 

The Importance of Lethal Means Safety as a Prevention Strategy

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Overview

United States veterans die by suicide, and by suicide using a firearm, at much higher rates than non-veterans. There is a growing body of research indicating that increasing the time and space needed for at-risk veteran to access a firearm saves lives in the short and long run.

This document reviews the background data on veterans, firearms, and suicide, and the emerging Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suicide prevention efforts to encourage at-risk veterans to voluntarily store their firearms more safely. It concludes with suggestions for policy and research initiatives that could further diminish these tragic deaths.

Summary

The high rate of veteran suicides, especially using firearms, necessitates active interventions at societal, institutional, community and individual levels. Increasing the cultural acceptance and use of lethal means counseling for safe storage of firearms for veterans at elevated risk of suicide could save innumerable lives.

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