Mike Anestis Ph.D.

GVRC Executive Director; Associate Professor in the Department of Urban-Global Public Health at the Rutgers School of Public Health

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Mike Anestis

Dr. Mike Anestis is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center and an Associate Professor of Urban-Global Public Health in the School of Public Health at Rutgers. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 2002 and his Ph.D. in psychology from Florida State in 2011. Dr. Anestis has been a named investigator on approximately $5 million in externally funded suicide prevention grants, including serving as the PI on one of the first randomized controlled trials of lethal means counseling for firearm owning service members – Project Safe Guard. He served on the means safety task force for the Defense Suicide Prevention Office and the lethal means line of effort for the PREVENTS task force. Dr. Anestis currently serves on the research advisory board for the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine (AFFIRM) and chairs the firearms and suicide committee for the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). In 2018, Dr. Anestis was the recipient of the Edwin Shneidman Award from AAS, designating him as the scientist under age 40 and within ten years of having received his or her degree whose research has made the greatest impact on suicide prevention.
In addition to his research, Dr. Anestis frequently engages in advocacy work to increase the awareness of the role of firearms in suicide and travels the country speaking to diverse groups of stakeholders in order to promote safe storage of personal firearms as a method of preventing suicide.

Research Interests:
Dr. Anestis’ research focuses on the risk of suicide, both within the military and among civilians, with a particular emphasis on firearms. He has published over 200 peer reviewed scientific articles as well as a book entitled Guns and Suicide: An American Epidemic.  

Dr. Anestis seeks to understand better who is most at risk for firearm suicide, how factors such as firearm storage practices and firearm beliefs may influence risk, and how to diminish suicide risk among firearm owners. Along these lines, Dr. Anestis recently led Project Safe Guard, a large randomized trial of lethal means counseling for firearm-owning members of the National Guard as an effort to examine how to effectively prompt meaningful and sustained changes in firearm storage behavior among service members. Dr. Anestis also interested in better understanding who has been driving the surge in firearm purchasing behavior during COVID-19, what their motivations are, and to what extent such individuals may require different interventions to reduce their risk for problematic outcomes. Lastly, Dr. Anestis has been particularly interested in better understanding how best to develop persuasive messaging around firearm storage behavior to reach firearm owners who store their firearms unsafely. His work in this area focuses on who is delivering the message, how the content of the message is structured, and in what manner the message is received.

Research Grants Funded:

Defense Health Agency 
Protective Environments: Military Community Engagement to Prevent Firearm-Related Violence 
Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Betz) 
Grant #: TBD 
Amount Awarded: $699,000 
9/26/2021 – 9/25/2023
New Jersey – Office of the Secretary of Higher Education
New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center – FY22
Role: Principal Investigator
Amount Awarded: $2,000,000
7/1/2021 – 6/30/2022
Military Suicide Research Consortium
Safety Messaging in the United States Military
Role: Principal Investigator
Grant #: W81XWH-16-2-0003
Amount awarded: $432,961
New Jersey – Office of the Secretary of Higher Education
New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center – FY21
Role: Principal Investigator
Amount Awarded: $500,000
7/1/2020 – 6/30-3021
New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services

New Jersey Firearms and Suicide Webinars and Presentation

Role: Principal Investigator
Amount Awarded: $117,336
8/15/2020 – 11/1/2020
Military Suicide Research Consortium

Project Safe Guard

Role: Principal Investigator
Grant #: W81XWH-16-2-0003
Amount Awarded: $1,987,214

Military Suicide Research Consortium

Behavioral Economics Intervention to Increase Treatment Seeking in the National Guard

Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Capron)
Grant #: W81XWH-16-2-0003

Amount Awarded: $780,378

Military Suicide Research Consortium
Identifying factors associated with future suicidal self-directed violence within a sample of Mississippi National Guard Personnel

Role: Principal Investigator
Grant #: W81XWH-10-2-0181
Amount Awarded: $704,715
Defense Suicide Prevention Office
Gun lock policies and the military culture of gun use

Role: Consultant (PI:CNA Corporation)

Project Number 0006.4752.B830.00.

Amount Awarded: $575,000