Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Suicide rates are higher among those who own a handgun and among those who live in a household with a handgun. The present investigation examined the association between gun ownership and mental health, another risk factor for suicide. Data from the General Social Survey, a series of surveys of U.S. adults, were analyzed to compare general emotional and mental health, sadness and depression, functional mental health, and mental health help seeking among gun owners, persons who do not own their own gun but reside in a household with a gun, and those who do not own a gun. After taking into account a few basic demographic characteristics associated with both variables, there appears to be no association between mental health and gun ownership. Nor is there any association between mental health and living in a household with a firearm. Findings suggest that the high risk of suicide among those who own or live in a household with a gun is not related to poor mental health. Implications for prevention are discussed.


Postprint version.

Sorenson, S. B., & Vittes, K. A. (2008). Mental health and firearms in community-based surveys: Implications for suicide prevention. Evaluation Review, 32(3), 239-256. doi: 10.1177/0193841X08315871

The final published version of this article can be found online at:


firearms, mental health, suicide



Date Posted: 11 July 2013

This document has been peer reviewed.