FirearmsA new study from Craig Bryan, PsyD, ABPP, director of the Division of Recovery and Resilience at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, hopes to shed light on the behavioral and psychological mechanisms involved in firearm-related death and pave the way for development of new, more effective treatment and prevention.

Leading the study is clinical psychologist Craig Bryan, PsyD, ABPP, the Stress, Trauma And Resilience (STAR) professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and director of the Division of Recovery and Resilience at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Dr. Bryan is a nationally recognized expert in the therapeutic treatment and biobehavioral understanding of stress-related disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidal behavior in U.S. military personnel and veterans.

Identifying the role of firearm availability in suicide risk 

“Based on our previous research, we suspect that firearm availability may increase risk for suicide mortality through psychological and neural processes like anticipatory anxiety and cognitive control. This grant will allow us to study this issue with much more detail using a number of advanced methods,” Dr. Bryan says. “Our near-exclusive emphasis on mental health treatment is why we are so bad at suicide prevention. We desperately need to move beyond the mental health model.” 

Using a variety of self-reported assessment methods, researchers will compare the psychophysiological, behavioral and ecological responses to different situations among three different groups:

  • handgun owners who regularly carry a firearm
  • handgun owners who do not regularly carry a firearm
  • non-gun owners

The goal is to better understand how suicide risk factors differ between firearm owners and non-firearm owners in order to develop more effective intervention programs, including those that can be implemented outside of health care systems.

“Ohio State’s study is part of an $8.5 million grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to nine universities and research institutes across the nation to conduct a broad range of research aimed at deterring firearm injury and mortality. According to the NIH, firearm-related suicide currently accounts for nearly 24,000 deaths a year in the U.S., representing almost two-thirds of all firearm-related deaths. Over the last 20 years, the rate of death by firearm-related suicide in the U.S. has increased by 15%.

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