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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

JAMA gun deaths editorial: 01/08/2018

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

The editors of the 11 journals published by the Journal of the American Medical Association recently noted in a jointly signed editorial that death by gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States.

Led by Howard Bauchner M.D., the editor in chief of the JAMA Network, the editors write (and we quote): 'Guns do not make individuals, their families, or homes safer and they result in far more deaths to loved ones than to an intruder intending to cause harm' (end of quote).

Specifically, JAMA's editors explain on average almost 100 people die each day from gun violence in the United States. They write (and we quote): "the 36,352 deaths from firearms in the United States in 2015 exceeded the number of deaths from motor vehicle traffic crashes that year…' (end of quote).

They continue (and we quote): 'Since 1968, more individuals in the United States have died from gun violence than in battle during all the wars the country has fought since its inception' (end of quote).

The JAMA editors add while most of the publicity about gun violence may be focused on mass casualties of innocent victims, about 61 percent of the gun deaths in the U.S. were suicides in 2015.

The editors explain guns result in suicide deaths more than 90 percent of the time. In contrast, the authors note the ingestion of pills and slashing of wrists is unsuccessful about 90 percent of the time.

The authors write (and we quote): 'the majority of people who try to commit suicide but survive the attempt will not go on to die from suicide; if the attempt is with a gun, there will be no second chance at life' (end of quote).

The JAMA editors explain several proposed strategies to curtail gun violence are helpful. They note these include: augmenting background checks for gun buyers; more security at hotels, venues, and schools; and more restrictions on the numbers and types of guns a person can own.

However, the authors conclude (and we quote): 'the key to reducing firearm deaths in the United States is to understand and reduce exposure to the cause, just like in any epidemic, and in this case that is guns' (end of quote).

The JAMA editors pledge to continue to publish studies on the impact of gun violence in part to reverse a decline in recent research, which the authors link to a restricted public tax support for gun studies imposed by the U.S. Congress two decades ago.

Meanwhile, information about preventing injuries from firearms (from the Nemours Foundation) is available within the 'resources' section of MedlinePlus.gov's gun safety health topic page.

Information about teen suicide and guns (from the American Academy of Pediatrics) also is available within the 'resources' section of MedlinePlus.gov's gun safety health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's gun safety health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. In addition, you can sign up to receive updates about gun safety as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's gun safety health topic page, please type 'gun safety' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'gun safety (National Library of Medicine).'

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It was nice to be with you and best wishes for the new year. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!