Identifying Optimal Messengers to Prevent Firearm-Related Suicide: Delivery of Lethal Means Safety Counseling by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Personnel

In a study of 6,200 US residents, Anestis et al. found that individuals in first responder roles – in particular, law enforcement, current military personnel, and military veterans – were rated as the most credible sources to discuss secure firearm storage for suicide prevention. One analog first responder group – emergency medical services (EMS) personnel – might also be optimally positioned to discuss secure firearm storage, especially with at-risk individuals. EMS personnel encompass both emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. These individuals are frequently the first on the scene for mental health crises, including suicide-related crises, which typically occur in someone’s home. These in-the-home touchpoints might provide an opportunity for EMS personnel to broach the subject of secure firearm storage, either with the patient themselves or with other inhabitants (e.g., loved ones, roommates, caregivers). 
Such a discussion could provide immediate increases in creating a secure home environment, especially in the context of an individual with potentially active suicide risk that may or may not necessitate hospitalization. However, to our knowledge, there are currently no programs in place to train EMS personnel in lethal means safety interventions. The provision of lethal means safety interventions by EMS personnel is consistent with a community paramedicine framework, wherein EMS personnel deliver interventions outside of their typical emergency response and transport roles. This study addresses an unmet need to identify a novel, opportune group of messengers – EMS personnel – for secure firearm storage interventions. The findings from this proposal will provide foundational work for future large-scale federal grant funding focused on EMS personnel as messengers of secure firearm storage. 

Funded By:
New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center

Project Status:
In progress

Principal Investigators (PI):
Ian H. Stanley, PhD, Angela Wright, MD

Amount Awarded: