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Firearm restriction as suicide prevention: variation in belief and practice among providers in an urban emergency department
  1. Marian E Betz1,
  2. Catherine W Barber2,
  3. Mathew Miller2
  1. 1Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA
  2. 2Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marian E Betz, Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado–Denver, 12401 E. 17th Ave B-215, Aurora, CO 80045, USA; marian.betz{at}


Providers in an urban emergency department (ED) responded to a confidential, online survey assessing their beliefs and practices with respect to reducing a suicidal person's access to lethal means of suicide. 26% of respondents (37% of ED nurses, 23% of ED physicians, and 9% of psychiatrists) believed that all of the jumpers from the Golden Gate Bridge would have found a lethal suicide alternative had a barrier been present, and an additional 38% thought that most would have. Two-thirds of respondents believed that providers in the ED should always ask suicidal patients about access to firearms, yet 52% (67% of nurses, 54% of ED physicians, and 13% of psychiatrists) reported rarely or never doing so. Psychiatrists were more likely than ED staff to report always asking. Further understanding these attitudes and behaviours could enhance suicide prevention activities in the ED.

  • Health services
  • psychological
  • suicide

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  • Funding This work was supported through internal institutional funding.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Institutional Review Board of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston, Massachusetts, USA).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.