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Gun Ownership Increases Suicide, Homicide Risk

Update Date: Jan 20, 2014 06:39 PM EST

Having a gun may triple the risk of committing suicide and double the risk of being murdered, according to a new study.

The latest study combined results from 15 investigations. Researchers said the review did not include studies that relied on survey data. Instead, the study focused on more specific information about whether victims had access to guns.

The findings revealed striking gender differences in the data. Researchers found that men were nearly four times more likely to commit suicide whereas women were almost three times more likely to be victims of homicide when firearms were available.

"Our analysis shows that having access to firearms is a significant risk factor for men committing suicide and for women being victims of homicide," Andrew Anglemyer, PhD, MPH, an expert in study design and data analytics in Clinical Pharmacy and Global Health Sciences at UCSF, who is also a U.S. Army veteran, said in a news release. "Since empirical data suggest that most victims of homicide know their assailants, the higher risk for women strongly indicates domestic violence."

Researchers found that about 75 percent of suicides occur in the victims' homes and a similar percentage of female homicide victims die in their homes.

Researchers said the findings held true even after accounting for biases they detected in the original studies, such as failing to account for mental illness, domestic violence or arrest history or inadvertently influencing the reports of victims' friends and relatives about whether they had access to firearms.

The findings are published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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