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Teens with mental health problems often have access to guns, study finds

The study reaffirms the concept of safely storing firearms in the household.

By Thor Benson

SEATTLE, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A new study finds teens with mental health problems in the United States report having easy access to guns.

Just under 41 percent of teens noted in the study reported having easy access to a firearm at home, and the researchers found no change in that percentage for teens who have a history of mental health problems and suicidal tendencies. The researchers used data from the National Comorbidity Survey–Adolescent Supplement, a national survey of 10,123 U.S. teens.

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"Studies have consistently shown that children living in homes with safely-stored firearms are less likely to be shot, and safe firearm storage is widely recommended by gun rights organizations and public health officials," said Dr. Joseph Simonetti, the study's lead author from the University of Washington School of Medicine's Harborview Medical Center. "Trigger locks and gun lockboxes can be purchased for less than $10 online, and in common stores."

The study found respondents who reported having access to a firearm tended to be around 15 years old, male, white and from high-income homes in rural areas.

The study is published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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