ARIZONA NEWS

Gun safety important in preventing teen suicides, Arizona group says

Jan 24, 2019, 2:53 PM | Updated: 2:59 pm
(Pixabay Photo)...
(Pixabay Photo)
(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — A new study from Boston University shows states with high gun ownership tend to have high youth suicide rates.

The study’s findings, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, were based on data from 2005 to 2015.

“My initial reaction was a bit of excitement that research is going in this direction,” Nikki Kontz, clinical director of Phoenix-based nonprofit Teen Lifeline, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

“It’s something that we in suicide prevention have long been thinking about.”

According to the study, it is the first paper to look at the relationship between gun ownership and youth suicide rates at a statewide level while controlling for states’ differences in prevalence of youth suicide attempts.

“What’s interesting is that there are still actually quite a few states with higher gun ownership than Arizona that actually have lower suicide rates as well,” Kontz said.

“The study really starts to point us to a direction but doesn’t really come to any conclusions yet, because there’s so much more to suicide than just something as simple as gun ownership and whether or not that should happen or not.”

In Arizona, just over 32 percent of households owned guns, and the average youth suicide rate from 2005 to 2015 was 6.8 per 100,000 youths, according to the study.

Arizona’s youth suicide rate over the decade ranked 11th-highest among the 50 states, and its gun ownership rate ranked 37th-highest.

Kontz said that in 2016, Arizona fell to No. 22, and 2017 numbers haven’t been released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention yet due to the government shutdown.

In any case, she said, it’s important for parents to prevent teens from getting access to guns in household, especially if they have expressed suicidal thoughts.

“What (the study) does do is points us to an area in which we can do better in educating our parents and our communities in terms of just gun safety. And, again, that’s an important distinction — this is not gun control, this is gun safety,” she said.

“What we do know about youth and suicide is that kids that are depressed and having thoughts of suicide, or kids that are just having thoughts of suicide, are at higher risk if there’s a gun in the home. And a lot of that has to do with storage.”

Kontz said she’s often found that parents don’t know that their kids know where guns and ammunition are stored in the house, or that they know the combinations to safes.

Parents should store ammunition separately from guns, change combination locks often, use codes that their kids can’t easily guess and frequently move any keys to safes to new locations, she said.

“It’s just about creating a distance in time, from when someone might be feeling that immense pain in a moment of crisis and creating a distance from a method that could hurt them and is highly lethal,” she said.

“Feeling are transitory, so if we can create this space where they can get a to a moment of more clarity or to ask for help or for there to be intervention before they’re able to get their hands on their guns, we know that saves lives.”

Editor’s note: If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call Teen Lifeline at 800-248-8336 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7 at 800-273-8255. 

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Lincoln Ventures, an Austin-based housing developer, broke ground on a new 24-story apartmebt build...
KTAR.com

Groundbreaking held for 24-story downtown Phoenix apartment tower

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for a 24-story downtown Phoenix apartment building that is projected to be open by 2023.
20 hours ago
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)...
Torrence Dunham

Tucson votes to terminate city employees who aren’t vaccinated against COVID by Dec. 1

The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday afternoon to terminate city employees who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 1.
20 hours ago
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

US Labor Department warns Arizona, 2 other GOP states over COVID rules

The Biden administration threatened Tuesday to revoke the authority for Arizona and two other Republican-controlled states to handle their own workplace safety enforcement because they have refused to adopt rules to protect health care workers from COVID-19.
20 hours ago
TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 07: The Weeknd performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at R...
KTAR.com

The Weeknd cancels tour with 2 Valley stops, teases stadium tour

Pop sensation The Weeknd on Monday announced the upcoming 2022 tour that had two stops in the Valley has been canceled, teasing a stadium tour that would commence next summer instead.
20 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Verde Valley Fire District)...
KTAR.com

Arizona firefighter-paramedic dies of COVID-19 complications

Tyrone Bell, an Arizona firefighter/paramedic, died Monday from COVID-19 complications, the Verde Valley Fire District announced.
20 hours ago
(Facebook Screenshot/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)...
Associated Press

MCSO Deputy Juan Ruiz remembered for achieving his dream

A Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy who died after being beaten by a suspect was remembered Tuesday as man who lived his dream to protect and serve.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
DISC DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
...
PNC Bank

How one organization supports early childhood literacy for the most vulnerable

Nearly two out of every three children in low-income communities don’t own a single children’s book, a fact that ultimately could have profound impacts even before entering kindergarten, according to Arizona nonprofit Southwest Human Development.
...
Albertsons

Grill like a pro this fall with tips from Albertsons

As the weather cools and football season kicks off, it’s a great time to fire up the grill and enjoy your favorite outdoor meals.
Gun safety important in preventing teen suicides, Arizona group says