Meet the Keynote: Jeffrey Swanson, Ph. D

Thinking Differently about Guns, Mental Illness, and Suicide Prevention

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Jeffrey Swanson is Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. He holds a PhD in sociology from Yale University. Dr. Swanson’s current research is focused on building evidence for policies and laws to prevent firearm-related violence and suicide, and to improve outcomes for adults with serious mental illnesses in the community. He received the 2011 Carl Taube Award from the American Public Health Association and the 2010 Eugene C. Hargrove, MD, Award from the North Carolina Psychiatric Foundation, both for outstanding career contributions to mental health research. Dr. Swanson’s research has been featured in the numerous national news outlets. He is principal investigator of a multi-state study on firearms laws, mental illness and prevention of gun violence, co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Brain and Behavior Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Program on Public Health Law Research (PHLR). He frequently serves as a consultant to public policymakers at the state and national levels.

In this keynote lecture, Duke professor Jeffrey Swanson will describe how the public health crisis of suicide in America—and the important role that both mental illness and firearms play in suicide mortality—redefines the contested role of mental illness in the national conversation about gun violence. It will highlight an innovative type of state law—now enacted in 12 states—that uses a civil court order to temporarily remove firearms from persons who are deemed to pose a significant risk of harming others or themselves. New research evidence will be presented on the implementation and effectiveness of these laws in preventing suicide.

Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will explore the role firearms play in suicide mortality.
  • Attendees will understand Extreme Risk Protection Orders and how they protect individuals with mental illness and their loved-ones.
  • Attendees will describe how Extreme Risk Protection Orders respect the rights of lawful, non-dangerous gun owners; and avoid stigmatizing people with mental illness or criminalizing people in crisis.