Developing Firearm Suicide Prevention Programs Tailored to Gun Owner Population Subgroups


Firearms are involved in half of all suicide fatalities.  Certain subgroups within the general population are at increased risk for forearms suicide, including law enforcement, active duty military, veterans, persons with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sexual minorities, and young people who have adverse childhood experiences.

The common risk factor for all these subgroups is access to a firearm.  However, a prevention program for veterans suffering from PTSD may need to be quite different from a program designed for sexual minority youth who experienced adverse childhood experiences.

American Foundation of Suicide Prevention

Funded by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention

Boston University logo

In collaboration with Boston University


To identify subgroups of gun owners in the United States distinguished by ownership of different types and quantities of firearms, their reasons for owning firearms, their attitudes toward gun regulation/practices/norms, their suicide risk factors, and suicide ideation, planning or attempts.

To identify class-specific facilitators and barriers to suicide prevention for each subgroup utilizing CBPR. Guiding questions: What are subgroup perceptions of the severity of suicide problems? What are the barriers and facilitators for the development of prevention programs?

Project Overview

The project utilizes a two-stage multi-method approach: (Phase 1) a quantitative analysis to identify unique subgroups of gun owners with different suicide risk factors; and (Phase 2) a qualitative analysis to gather information regarding receptivity, facilitators, and barriers for developing targeted firearm suicide prevention programs for these subgroups.

The quantitative study will use data from a U.S. national survey of gun owners (ages 18+) that will capture: information about suicide health risk factors; attributes of gun ownership including types, quantities and combinations of guns owned, reasons for owning guns, and attitudes about gun regulations; psychographics including political orientation and personality attributes; and demographics including occupation and geographic setting.

This information will be analyzed using Latent Class Analysis (LCA) to reveal a number of subgroups that share similar attributes. A community based participatory research process will be employed by recruiting a CAB of stakeholders from different firearm suicide risk subgroups.

The identification of unique subgroups will inform the recruitment of several focus groups that will be used to reveal opportunities and obstacles for the creation of targeted firearm suicide prevention programs that can be implemented by firearm owners.

The CAB will assist with interpretation of the research results, design of the focus groups and review of a final integrated report that will guide the development of a future grant which will focus on concept testing, program rollout, and program evaluation.

Project Team

Craig Ross

Craig Stuart Ross
Principal Investigator
Research Assistant Professor
Boston University

Jamie Gradus

Jamie Gradus
Associate Professor
Boston University

Michael Siegel

Michael B. Siegel
Teaching Professional in Health Law
Boston University

Alisa Lincoln - Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research, Northeastern University

Alisa K. Lincoln
Director of IHESJR

Northeastern University

Suzanne Garverich

Suzanne Garverich
Program Manager, IHESJR
Northeastern University