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Lethal Means Counseling, Distribution of Cable Locks, and Safe Firearm Storage Practices Among the Mississippi National Guard: A Factorial Randomized Controlled Trial, 2018–2020

Two-thirds of suicide deaths in the military result from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Despite this, little research has been done on ways to prevent such outcomes. We conducted a randomized controlled trial of lethal means counseling and distribution of cable locks within a sample of firearm-owning members of the Mississippi National Guard. Results indicated that those who received lethal means counseling (vs control) were significantly more likely begin using cable locks and to store their firearms in gun safes and those who received cable locks (vs no cable locks) were more likely to then use cable locks. These results held through both the 3- and 6-month follow-up appointments. These findings indicate that a single session of a simple intervention, delivered with cultural humility, can result in meaningful and sustainable changes in firearm storage behavior.

This randomized controlled trial utilized a 2 × 2 factorial design (lethal means counseling vs control, provision of cable locks vs no cable locks). Follow-up assessments took place at 3 and 6 months after baseline. Data were collected (n = 232; 87.5% male; mean age = 35.01 years; 77.2% White) from February 2018 through July 2020.

Project Status:

Principal Investigator (PI): 
Michael D. Anestis, PhD, Craig J. Bryan, PsyD ABPP, Daniel W. Capron, PhD, AnnaBelle O. Bryan, MS

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