What You Can Do believes in your ability, as a provider, to prevent firearm injury and death—especially firearm suicide, firearm homicide, and accidental firearm death—among the patients with whom you already are interacting. Identifying risk factors in your patients is the first step to planning an informed conversation about risk for firearm injury and firearm safety.

There are 3 main categories of risk for firearm injury and death:

Patients at acute risk

  • Those with suicidal or homicidal ideation

Patients with individual risk factors

  • History of violent behavior
  • History of violent victimization
  • Abusive partners
  • Alcohol and drug misuse
  • Serious and poorly controlled mental illness
  • Impaired cognition or judgement

Patients belonging to a demographic group at risk

  • Children and adolescents
  • Middle-aged and older men, for suicide
  • Adolescent and young men, for homicide

In some cases, the factors exposing patients to increased risk of firearm injury may be the reasons those patients are coming into contact with a health care provider like you.

We're not recommending universal counseling.

We're recommending that when a patient exhibits risk factors for firearm injury and has access to a firearm, you talk with him or her about strategies to reduce that risk.

Adapted from Wintemute GJ, Betz ME, Ranney ML. Yes, you can: physicians, patients, and firearms. Ann Intern Med 2016;165:205-13.