Teen Suicide and Guns

This brochure highlights the risks of having a gun in the home. Adolescent suicide rates have been increasing in the United States, and research demonstrates a link between handguns in the home and completed teen suicide. States with the highest gun ownership rates also have the highest rates of completed teen suicides. While many parents may be unaware of the epidemiology of teenage suicide, all are concerned about the issue. When discussing firearmrelated topics, it is important to note that there are many different opinions among parents about gun ownership and storage. Using this brochure may help communicate the message objectively.

How to Use This Tool

  • As a primary prevention tool, this brochure can be used individually with parents to support counseling or distributed in cooperation with school and community groups.
  • Parents of teens with mood disorders should be counseled about the risks of teen suicide and may benefit from reading this brochure. As parents and other caregivers may disagree about the dangers of firearms in the home, the provision of written, objective advice from a trusted source may be helpful.
Helpful Hints

  • Try to tie in anticipatory guidance with events in one's own clinical experience or recent events in the newspaper. For example, clinicians can hand out this brochure and comment, "Did you read in the newspaper about the teen who killed himself last month? I'm getting quite concerned about all of my teenage patients."
  • Another important point for parents to understand is that many teen suicides are impulsive. The time between a teenager's decision to commit suicide and the attempt is very brief. Most teenagers who survive suicide attempts are glad they lived and are unlikely to go on to commit suicide. You can express this by saying, "Teenagers are passionate. Sometimes, they get so carried away in the heat of the moment that their actions are not just unwise, but deadly.?

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