Current and planned firearm ownership is common among individuals with major depressive symptoms, according to a study published online March 21 in JAMA Network Open.

Roy H. Perlis, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues assessed the prevalence of current and planned firearm ownership among a national sample of 24,770 survey respondents (28.0 percent reporting moderate or greater depressive symptoms).

The researchers found that 31.3 percent of respondents with depression reported firearm ownership, of whom 35.9 percent reported purchasing a firearm within the past year. The presence of moderate or greater depressive symptoms was not significantly associated with firearm ownership (adjusted odds ratio, 1.07; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.98 to 1.17) but was associated with a greater likelihood of a first-time firearm purchase during the COVID-19 pandemic (adjusted odds ratio, 1.77; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.56 to 2.02) and a greater likelihood of considering a future firearm purchase (adjusted odds ratio, 1.53; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.23 to 1.90).

“The findings of this study suggest that firearm ownership is common among individuals with depression in the United States, highlighting an opportunity to diminish suicide risk through focused interventions,” write the authors. “Knowing that the combination of gun ownership and suicidality is more common among particular groups of individuals may facilitate tailored messaging, outreach, and intervention.”

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JAMA Network Open

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