"Gun violence cannot fall outside that," she says.
Marian Betz, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the CU School of Medicine and lead author of the new study echoed those sentiments in a statement about the new study.
"This is an opportunity for intervention, but very often providers don't know how to react or they think someone else should ask about firearms," said Betz. "And then some have an aversion to getting into an area so fraught with politics. This is not an issue of gun control; it's a safety issue for patients in crisis."
The Surgeon General's 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, encourages healthcare providers "who interact with individuals at risk for suicide to routinely assess for access to lethal means."
Although nurses and other healthcare providers might be intimidated or unsure about asking about firearms access, doing so—and incorporating those skills into medical education—could potentially change the course of a suicidal person's life, researchers say.
"However, brief risk assessment of access to lethal means and possibly brief interventions are reasonable skills for emergency department providers to master," Betz said. "Whenever we have the opportunity to save a life, we ought to be taking it."