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Safe Storage to Save Lives: The Role of Guns in Adolescent Suicide

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Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents and young adults ages 10 to 24. Roughly 7% to 8% of adolescents attempt suicide each year and 17% report significant suicidal ideation. However, while so many kids are affected, diagnosing them isn’t so simple. “We know the numbers have climbed significantly. If you look at the trends, we’re probably nearly double what we were 20 years ago,” Eric Sigel, MD, says.

In this episode, we shine a light on how to clinically identify youth at risk for suicide and determine if they have access to lethal means, such as firearms or medications. In addition, we will discuss evidence-based approaches to reduce or eliminate access to lethal means. That includes counseling and safe storage device distribution.

Our guest, Dr. Sigel, specializes in adolescent medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the lead for firearm injury prevention, as well as a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In addition, he serves as co-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics firearm injury prevention special interest group. “I think it’s an incredible privilege to sit down with a teenager, hear their story and understand a little bit what they may be going through, while being able to help them figure out a better direction to avoid harm,” Dr. Sigel says.

This episode was recorded at the 2023 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition. Some highlights from this episode include:  

  • The prominence of adolescent suicide in today’s society
  • Approaches to suicidal identification in a clinical setting
  • How a change in easy firearm access can prevent suicide
  • Evidence on counseling and safe storage of firearms

For more information on Children’s Colorado, visit:     

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