Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Many emergency department providers don't ask suicidal patients about gun access

Date:
April 1, 2013
Source:
University of Colorado Denver
Summary:
Although guns are used in over half of all American suicides, a new study shows many emergency room doctors do not routinely ask suicidal patients about their access to firearms.

Although guns are used in over half of all American suicides, a new study shows that many emergency room doctors and nurses do not routinely ask suicidal patients about their access to firearms.

"In our study, less than half of emergency room medical providers believe most or all suicides are preventable and many rarely ask about the availability of firearms," said Marian Betz, MD, MPH, at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "There is a great opportunity to save lives here that many are not taking advantage of."

The study, published in the March edition of Depression and Anxiety, surveyed 631 emergency department doctors and nurses in eight American hospitals as part of the Emergency Department Safety Assessment and Follow-up Evaluation (ED-SAFE) trial.

They found that 44 percent of physicians and 67 percent of nurses believed that most or all of those who committed suicide by gun would have found another way if the firearm was not available.

It also showed that 49 percent of doctors and 72 percent of nurses said they `hardly ever' personally counsel patients or families to remove or lock up guns at home.

The proportion of providers who said they `almost always' asked suicidal patients about their access to firearms varied according to the scenario.

  • 64 percent would almost always ask if the patient had an actual plan to commit suicide with a gun.
  • 22 percent would ask if the patient was suicidal but had no suicide plan.
  • 21 percent would ask if the patient was suicidal with a non-firearm plan.
  • 16 percent would ask if the patient had been suicidal in past month but was not today.
  • 9 percent would ask if patient had overdosed but was no longer suicidal.

In 2010, 38,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. and another 465,000 were treated in emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries.

In the year before they died, 40 percent of suicide victims visited an emergency department at least once and often many times.

"This is an opportunity for intervention but very often providers don't know how to react or they think someone else should ask about firearms," said Betz, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the CU School of Medicine. "And then some have an aversion to getting into an area so fraught with politics. This is not an issue of gun control; it's a safety issue for patients in crisis."

As part of the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, emergency room providers are encouraged to routinely assess the ability of suicidal patients to obtain firearms or other tools to harm themselves.

In real life, Betz said, this rarely happens. Her study shows that most felt it was the responsibility of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses or social workers to ask about firearms.

"If a suicidal person has a gun you could come up with a plan to put it in a safe place," she said. "Sometimes, the police or a family member can take it. Or it can be locked up in a safe."

The study acknowledged the growing caseloads in emergency departments and the difficulty in conducting lengthy counseling sessions of suicidal patients.

The best option, Betz said, would be for emergency departments to have mental health professionals standing by.

"However, brief risk assessment of access to lethal means and possibly brief interventions are reasonable skills for emergency department providers to master," she said, noting that these skills should be incorporated into medical education. "Whenever we have the opportunity to save a life, we ought to be taking it."

The study was funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado Denver. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marian E. Betz, Matthew Miller, Catherine Barber, Ivan Miller, Ashley F. Sullivan, Carlos A. Camargo, Edwin D. Boudreaux. Lethal Means Restriction for Suicide Prevention: Beliefs and Behaviors of Emergency Department Providers. Depression and Anxiety, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/da.22075

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado Denver. "Many emergency department providers don't ask suicidal patients about gun access." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130401090711.htm>.
University of Colorado Denver. (2013, April 1). Many emergency department providers don't ask suicidal patients about gun access. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130401090711.htm
University of Colorado Denver. "Many emergency department providers don't ask suicidal patients about gun access." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130401090711.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins