Firearms and Suicide Prevention

By Dave Dolbee published on in General, News

With suicide accounting for nearly two-thirds of all firearm fatalities annually, the topic of suicide prevention deserves our attention. In recent years, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has worked with the Veterans Administration, the State of Utah, and mental health agencies to help educate gun owners and the public on how to keep firearms safely out of reach of those who, during a period of despair, might decide to do themselves harm.

Firearms and suicide infographic

Here is the full release from the NSSF:

Now is an appropriate time to broaden our efforts, which the NSSF done in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Recently, NSSF and AFSP announced a partnership to embark on a first-of-its-kind national plan to build and implement public education resources for firearms retailers, shooting ranges and the firearms-owning community about suicide prevention and firearms.

And last week, AFSP provided more details on its four-state pilot program that will involve firearms retailers and shooting ranges utilizing AFSP-NSSF jointly developed strategies and resources to provide materials to firearm owners about warning signs, prevention resources, and secure firearms storage options. Also discussed in the press release is AFSP’s Project 2025, an initiative to reduce the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025—an effort that NSSF supports.

Experts tell us that suicide results from the culmination of several health and life factors, with the decision to act often being made in minutes. Keeping firearms securely stored puts space between the period of risk and the means to act, and sometimes that space can help save a life.

You will be hearing more about AFSP and NSSF efforts in this area.

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Comments (4)

  • flyerBob

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    Janssen recently announced that the FDA granted a Breakthrough Therapy Designation for esketamine, a non-competitive and subtype non-selective activity-dependent N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, for major depressive disorder and imminent risk for suicide.

    Reply

  • G-Man

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    In my dual-careers, both military and law enforcement, require us to go through recurring and regular suicide prevention training. While these professions do their best to train us to reduce suicide, I will be brutally honest and say that my experience has shown that more times than not, there are no warning signs.

    Of the few that do show identifiable signs, they are usually acting out for help and don’t really intend to follow through… yet. Those are the ones that we may have time to do something about; if we are paying attention.

    An example to watch for would be your buddy after a broken relationship who starts binge drinking. Even if he/she has no intentions, all it takes is that one really bad night in a drunken stupor to think a pull-of-the-trigger is the way out. Sadly, had they been sober, they’d possibly never have even thought of it.

    As silly as it sounds, our profession trains us to simply ask a person if they feel bad enough to harm themselves. You’d be surprised how embarrassed a person becomes which prevents them from asking a friend or co-worker such a simple question – but you’d also be surprised how honest a friend’s response will be after being asked. It may save a life, so never feel uncomfortable asking.

    You’d also be surprised how many are willing to let you store their guns until they get help or get over their depression. To them it shows how much you really care – which is sometimes all they needed to get through their temporary moment of despair.

    Suicide is a really tough topic that most people naturally avoid discussing. But often after a completed suicide we beat ourselves up searching for answers as to whether we could have prevented it. That is not fair to do to yourself. In the end we must understand that a person’s choice to end their life is on them.

    Reply

    • Chris

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      G-man, you are correct and I agree with everything you said. I have been a paid Firefighter/ Paramedic for the last 12 years and run many many calls for suicide threats. Those who call threatening it are crying for help and many will never do it. Those who do successfully do it never talk about it, no one knows, and it is a shock to everyone left behind because they never knew he/ she could do this. My brother was also a paid FF/ PM for 9 years, had a bad drinking problem for years, refused all help, had no signs otherwise, and recently shot himself. He was a grown man and gods free will entitled him to make that choice, most likely because of how drunk he was, but it was his decision not anyone else’s. You can’t always help those who do not want help and do not want to change.

      Reply

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