Firearms, Fiduciaries, and Veterans: Complications of a Flawed Federal Policy Designed to Keep Veterans Safe
In 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dr. David Shulkin announced that suicide prevention for Veterans was the top clinical priority of the VA (Lamothe 2018). Based on the largest Veteran suicide data report to date, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (2017) discovered that 20 Veterans per day die by suicide, which is 21% higher than the non-Veteran population in the United States. These findings are overwhelming and have caused grave concern among Veterans, their families, providers, policymakers, public health experts, and the US community at large.
Why are Veterans dying at such high rates of suicide? A primary reason is Veterans’ use of firearms when they are feeling suicidal. Both male and female Veterans use firearms more than non-Veterans when they make a suicide attempt for reasons including firearm access, knowledge of how to use firearms, and—based on their training—feeling more comfortable and safe with firearms. Overall, firearm restriction has been...
- Boyer, D. (2015). VA raises concerns about gun registry with offer of free gun locks. The Washington Times, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/6/va-free-gun-locks-raises-concerns-gun-registry/.
- Lamothe, D. (2018). Trump seeks to reduce suicide among recent veterans with new executive order. The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2018/01/09/trump-to-unveil-new-executive-order-to-reduce-suicide-among-recent-veterans/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1228852e32f2.
- Swanson, J. W., Easter, M. M., Brancu, M., & Fairbank, J. A. (2018). Informing federal policy on firearm restrictions for Veterans with fiduciaries: Risk indicators in the Post-Deployment Mental Health Study. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services, In review.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2017). Suicide among Veterans and other Americans (2001–2014). Washington, DC, https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/2016suicidedatareport.pdf.