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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Effects of youth-focused firearms laws on youth suicides

Daniel W. Webster, ScD, MPH1, Jon Vernick, JD, MPH2, Jennifer A. Manganello, PhD, MPH3, and April M. Zeoli, MPH1. (1) Center for Gun Policy and Research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Sch of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Rm 593, Baltimore, MD 21205, (410) 955-0440, dwebster@jhsph.edu, (2) Johns Hopkins University, 624 N. Broadway, Room 594, Baltimore, MD 21205-1996, (3) Public Policy Center, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

PURPOSE Firearms are used in approximately half of youth suicides. Many state and federal laws include age-specific restrictions on the purchase, possession, or storage of handguns. We evaluate the effects of these youth-focused firearm laws on suicides among young males.

METHODS We obtained information for youth-focused firearm laws mandating a minimum age for the purchase or possession of handguns, and child access prevention (CAP) laws requiring safe storage of firearms, in effect in the United States for each year from 1976-1999. Data sets with the number of suicides among young males for each state and year were constructed. Negative binomial regression models were used to estimate the effects of the laws. Covariates, including alcohol consumption and poverty, were included. Model coefficients were converted to incident rate ratios (IRR) to express law effects as a percent change in suicide rates.

RESULTS CAP laws were associated with a 7.3% (IRR=0.927, p=0.056) decrease in suicide rates among 14-17 year olds, and a 5.6% (IRR=0.944, p=0.04) decrease among ages 18-20. Minimum purchase and possession age laws were not associated with reductions in suicide rates among ages 14-17. Laws mandating a minimum purchase age of 21 were associated with a 5.7% reduction in suicides among ages 18-20, an effect that approached statistical significance (IRR= 0.943, p=0.11).

CONCLUSION CAP laws are an important intervention to reduce suicide rates among young males. Handgun purchase laws establishing a minimum age of 21 show some promise for suicide prevention but caution is warranted in the absence of statistical significance.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to describe the relationships between

    Keywords: Fiscal Policy, Suicide

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    [ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

    Firearm Policy and Injury Prevention

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA