Talk:US study finds correlation between youth suicide, household gun ownership

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OR Notes[edit]

The eurekalert press release lists a contact email for Meaghan Agnew, who is the media contact for the story. I sent the following:

Dear Meaghan,

I'm interested in writing about this study for Wikinews, which is a sister project to the well-known Wikipedia; a core difference being the extensive fact-checking of content before it is released. I was hoping it would be possible to interview one of the authors of this study.

I propose a Q&A format interview via email. This has two great advantages; as well as the obvious ability to accurately capture what was said, it allows interviewees to answer questions in detail at their leisure, when it is convenient to them. This both eases the burden on those interviewed and produces high-quality material to bring the science to a greater audience.

In this case there are societal issues of some significance at play, so naturally I'm very keen to do as good a job as possible in writing about them.

If at all possible, I'd like to submit the same set of questions to both Anita Knopov and Michael Siegel, and list the expert responses from both. Normally, my method is to reach out directly to researchers; in this case, given you are listed as the point-of-contact for press inquiries on this study, it seemed more appropriate to approach this via yourself.

I thank you for your time,


And she got back, CC'ing in the professor:

Hi Iain,

Thanks for reaching out! I'm cc'ing Professor Siegel here, who is indeed available to answer questions via email.

Let me know if you need anything else,


Mike quickly was in touch with the following:

Hi Iain,

Feel free to email me your questions and I will respond as soon as possible.

Many thanks!


I sent a brief message which neither received nor required a response, letting Mike know I would get back to him today with interview questions. Today, I sent them; actually, I made an attempt to send them as an attachment which failed. I had, to my embarrassment, to send a second email clarifying and with the questions in the body of the message. When the responses come in, the relevant parts of the email chain will be forwarded to scoop in the usual manner. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 23:47, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

I've just now received the following message from Mike:

Hi Iain,

Below are my responses to your questions. Many thanks for your interest in this research.

All the best, Mike

Michael Siegel, MD, MPH [Position, address, phone & fax numbers]

Original Message-----

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself, your background, and what led you to look into this subject?
--> I am a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. My research has focused on the areas of tobacco, alcohol, and firearms. We decided to look at this subject because although there have been some studies that reported an association between household gun ownership and youth suicide rates, one could argue that the reason for this association is that gun households differ systematically from non-gun households in that they are more likely to have youth with depression and therefore youth who are more likely to attempt suicide. Our study was designed to control for these factors in order to determine whether differences in suicide attempt rates explain the observed association between household gun ownership and youth suicide rates.

Given that some key data is from 2004, how well do you think your results can be applied to the situation today?
--> Although we used gun ownership data from 2004 for the primary analysis, we repeated the analysis using a household gun ownership proxy averaged over the years 2005-2015, and the results were similar. Thus, we do not believe that there is any reason to think that the results do not apply to the situation today.

To what extent do the results of this study match up to your expectations?
--> We did not actually have a pre-conceived idea of whether or not we would find an association after controlling for the proportion of youth who were depressed, had made a suicide plan, or had attempted suicide. We were surprised, however, to find that the percentage of households with a gun was a stronger predictor of the youth suicide rate than the percentage of youth who made a suicide attempt.

What influence would you like to see these results having on policymakers?
--> The results suggest that decreasing the access of youth to firearms may lower youth suicide rates. Thus, our findings support efforts to encourage gun owners to store their guns in a manner that prevents youth from accessing them. Policy makers should consider enacting policies that reduce youth access to improperly stored firearms.

If you had access to more recent data than that from 2004, what would you hypothesize the difference might be, if any?
--> We don't hypothesize that there would be any substantial difference because when we used the proxy data on gun ownership from 2005-2015, we did not find any major difference in the results.

Did you notice any significant trends in the data year-by-year, and, if so, what were they and what do you think might account for them?
--> In this article, we did not examine trends by year. The study was cross-sectional and combined (averaged) data from 2005 through 2015. Thus, we are not able in this study to examine trends in suicide rates over time.

You noted suicide attempts by youth were not as accurate a prediction method for youth suicide rates as the household gun ownership rates were. Why do you think that might be?
--> Our hypothesis is that the most important predictor of the youth suicide rate in a state is the extent to which youth in that state have access to the most lethal means (i.e., firearms). Having a high level of access to firearms, which is the most lethal means for suicide, apparently has a far greater impact on suicide rates and can negate the fact that a state has a low rate of youth suicide attempts (and vice versa).

Moving forward from this study, what are the next steps you have planned to research this further?
--> The next step of this research is to examine whether there are particular state firearm laws that impact rates of youth suicide at the state level.

I'm about to forward the above to scoop in the usual manner.
BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 20:29, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

Review of revision 4460467 [Passed][edit]

I find myself wishing I'd somewhat adjusted the headline on this before publishing, as the interview particularly notes there had already been results indicating a correlation between those two things, the point of this study being to control for various other factors. --Pi zero (talk) 00:32, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
Ya. Rather than finds, perhaps examines would have been more apt. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 01:09, 28 January 2019 (UTC)