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Gun access heightens risk of suicide, homicide

Posted on Jan 21 2014 | IANS

Washington, Jan 21 : As the gun control movement in the US is gaining momentum, a new study cautions that someone with access to firearms is at a greater risk of committing suicide or being a victim of homicide.

People with access to guns are three times more likely to commit suicide and nearly twice as likely to be the victim of a homicide as someone who does not have access, said researchers at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

They found women at greater risk of being killed.

"Our analysis shows that having access to firearms is a significant risk factor for men committing suicide and for women being victims of homicide," said Andrew Anglemyer, an expert in study design and data analytics in clinical pharmacy and global health sciences at UCSF.

"Since data suggest that most victims of homicide know their assailants, the higher risk for women strongly indicates domestic violence," he added.

Firearms play a significant role in both suicide and homicide, accounting for slightly more than half of all suicide deaths and two-thirds of homicide deaths, according to the National Violent Death Reporting System, run by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 75 percent of suicides occur in the victims' homes, and a similar percentage of female homicide victims die in their homes. The figure is about 45 percent for men, said the study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

In the US, gun ownership is higher than anywhere else in the world and firearms cause an estimated 31,000 deaths each year.

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