Rinad Beidas Inquirer Commentary on Gun Suicides and Primary Care

Rinad Beidas Inquirer Commentary on Gun Suicides and Primary Care

Rate of Youth Suicides Has Doubled in Ten Years

An important point lost in much of the rowdy national debate over firearm mass murders and physicians' role in gun control is that children are especially at risk for suicide by gun, writes University of Pennsylvania Associate Professor and LDI Senior Fellow Rinad Beidas in a Philadelphia Inquirer commentary.

Rinad Beidas, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, gun control

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Photo: Hoag Levins
Rinad Beidas, PhD, Associate Penn Professor and LDI Senior Fellow

Beidas, PhD, is Director of Implementation Research at the Penn Center for Mental Health (PCMH), and Director of the Penn Implementation Science Center at LDI (PISCE@LDI). A licensed clinical psychologist, she is an expert in the field of childhood psychiatric disorders.

Youth suicides
In her Inquirer news commentary headlined "How Your Child's Primary-Care Doctor Can Prevent Gun Injury and Death," Beidas notes that the leading cause of death by firearm is suicide. CDC statistics document a doubling of the rate of youth suicide between 2007 and 2016.

"When I take my children to their doctor,"she writes, "I’m typically asked whether my home has a smoke detector and whether I use car seats. But no physician has ever asked me whether I have a firearm in my home and, if so, whether I store it safely. This kind of conversation could save the lives of my children and their friends."

Two firearm safety studies
Beidas is the principal investigator on two related team studies, one published in the November edition of Academic Pediatrics entitled "Acceptability and Use of Evidence-Based Practices for Firearm Storage in Pediatric Primary Care," and the second published in JAMA Network Open entitled "Stakeholder Perspectives on Implementing a Firearm Safety Intervention in Pediatric Primary Care as a Universal Suicide Prevention Strategy: A Qualitative Study."

"A simple intervention involves primary-care doctors asking parents whether their children have access to guns and providing parents with mechanisms such as cable locks to help store the firearms more safely," she explained in the Inquirer piece.

Health systems and firearm safety
"Doctors," she said, "should ask parents about guns in their homes. Try to identify local programs that provide free or at-cost firearm locks. Advocate for your health system to consider providing free locks. Partner with local firearm-safety instructors and shop owners to identify areas of common ground and referral sources for parents.... the time is now for health systems to help promote firearm safety."