General

Reducing the Annual Suicide Rate 20 Percent by 2025

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

Nation’s Largest Suicide Prevention Organization and the Firearms Industry Trade Association Join Forces, Launch New Education Program to Potentially Save Thousands of Lives

LAS VEGAS — Of all firearms-related deaths in the U.S. in 2015, almost two-thirds were suicide deaths, according to the 2015 Fatal Injury Report, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. To help stem this tragic loss of life, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) today announced at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas a partnership to launch a new firearms and suicide prevention education program nationwide in 2017.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and NSSF partner to save lives
The program brings together AFSP community-based Chapters and NSSF-member organizations, including firearms retailers and range owners across the country, to educate the gun-owning community about suicide, warning signs, risk factors and the importance of securely storing firearms to help prevent access in times of distress. A pilot of this program has been ongoing in four states since August 2016.

“Of all suicide deaths in our nation, nearly 50 percent are by firearm. By increasing public education of firearms and suicide prevention, and by encouraging the use of safe storage options and thus reducing access to lethal means, we give suicidal individuals something they desperately need: time. Time for the intense suicidal risk to diminish and time for someone to intervene with mental health support and resources,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, AFSP’s Chief Medical Officer at a press conference today at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the largest trade show in the world for professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries. “Research has shown that separating suicidal individuals from a variety of lethal means can prevent suicide.” Firearms retailers and range owners are in a unique position to help disseminate mental health and suicide prevention education materials, and safe storage options to those who frequent their stores. With these public education resources, the firearms-owning community can help spread the word to those who may be concerned about a friend or family member who may be at risk, and who may have access to a firearm.

“Our partnership with AFSP allows us to expand our decades-long firearms safety efforts to include suicide prevention education,” said Steve Sanetti, NSSF’s President and CEO. “As the industry’s trade association with more than 12,000 members, we want to help. By making gun owners and the public more aware of suicide and responsible firearm storage, we are confident that we will help save lives.” The firearms and suicide prevention program is an expansion of a pilot that began last August, in four states including Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, and New Mexico. In these four states, relationships between AFSP Chapter volunteers and local shooting range owners, firearms retail stores and gun show vendors shared resources on recognizing the risks and warning signs of suicide and ways of reaching out to those who may be struggling, including: Talk Saves Lives: Firearms and Suicide Prevention, a community-based presentation that provides an overview and understanding of mental health and suicide, and the benefits of connecting with those who may be struggling.

Firearms and Suicide Prevention, a new brochure which includes sections on safe storage options, statistics about suicide, how to recognize the risks and warning signs of suicide, how to reach out to someone when you’re worried about them, and where to go for further resources.

Firearms and Suicide Prevention: Facilitator’s Guide for AFSP volunteers involved in the program who need instructional information on leading community-based programs. A new webpage which will showcase an overview of the firearms and suicide prevention program and the latest news. The organizations are currently creating a short training video on how to have a caring conversation with someone who may be suicidal, which will be featured on the webpage, and is due to be released in spring 2017.

“When I first heard about this partnership I was really encouraged. Working with experts in the field, we have been trying to teach gun owners about suicide prevention on a local level for a while – and so far it’s been a bootstrap effort, recruiting one firearms retailer at a time. But by expanding the education and suicide prevention program nationally, we will have a much easier time convincing retailers to get involved because NSSF is a name they trust,” said Dick Abramson, President and CEO of the Centennial Gun Club in Colorado. “At a weekly ladies’ night we hold at the Centennial Gun Club, we have already brought in a suicide prevention expert to speak on this topic. The questions asked were insightful and the audience was extremely interested. So we know there is a real thirst in the community for this kind of education.”


About Project 2025

Launched in October 2015, Project 2025 is a high-impact, collaborative initiative developed by AFSP, aimed at achieving the organization’s bold goal of reducing the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025. Using a dynamic systems model approach based on what the evidence tells us about suicide, AFSP has determined a series of actions and critical areas to help us reach our goal. With this approach we reach across all demographic and sociological groups to have the greatest impact for suicide prevention and the potential to save thousands of lives within the next 10 years. If we work collectively to expand the above interventions in key area (Firearms, Emergency Departments, and in Large Healthcare Systems) — cumulatively, we can expect to save nearly 20,000 lives through 2025.

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Comments (8)

  1. While I am sympathetic to a person who is so depressed that suicide seems the only way out, There are so many ways of ending one’s life that it seems to me addressing the underlying problem is a better solution than trying to take the means away. Japan has a much high suicide rate than the U.S. Weapons are much more strictly controlled in Japan than just about any country that I know of. Drugs are also tightly controlled in Japan and as far as I can tell from Japanese news sources, they have less of a problem than we here in the U.S. Yet the Japanese still find ways to commit suicide. Right now carbon monoxide is apparently the most popular method and the means range from automobile exhaust to charcoal braziers indoors. Besides leaping off high places, a very popular place for suicide is a rather impenetrable forest near Mount Fuji where people go in and deliberately lose themselves and die of exposure. Poison is also popular with people ingesting everything from rodent poison to insecticides. While I haven’t given it a lot of thought, just writing these choices down makes me think that if I did decide that life wasn’t worth living, certainly a gun would be preferable to any of the means I have mentioned. Denmark is another country that is reported to have a much higher suicide rate than the U.S. and I don’t have any news sources from Denmark so I don’t know what the most popular methods are in that country. While providing range masters and gun shop employees with training to recognize strong symptoms of a suicidal person, at other times the depression is so well screened that even medical personnel don’t detect the symptoms. I call to mind the son-in-law of a colleague of mine who was an busy anesthesiologist working among medical professionals every day whom one would think would be trained to recognize signs of deep depression yet one day he closed the door to his office and killed himself. How he was able to carry on every day in a highly skilled profession while suffering from such debilitating depression is hard to understand but I know of other instances where someone apparently suddenly with no understandable reason killed themselves, not so close as the man I mentioned above. While the effort on the part of the firearms industry is laudable, I feel the impact of their efforts will be minimal for the effort involved. That is not to say that we shouldn’t try, I just don’t expect to see startling results and I don’t think we should undertake such efforts expecting significant results. Certainly not without expanding our mental health programs dramatically. I won’t get off on that rant. I have read that we have fewer mental health hospital beds in the U.S. today than we had in the late 1900s. The way we treat our mentally ill is despicable. People like to point to he Republicans for the way our mentally ill are treated but the blood is on the hands of both parties. Significant numbers of mentally ill who were housed in mental health hospitals are now housed in prisons and jails. For all the folks who thought the mental health hospitals were “snake pits” they were summer camps compared to prisons and jails. In the Peepuls Demokratik Republik of Kalyforniya I have read that we have more mentally ill folks in the state prison system than we have just plain old every day criminals. We sure saved a lot of money switching out prison for mental hospital confinements. Well, sorry for the long ran, but our contemptible treatment of the mentally ill is a real sore point with me and it is hard to turn me off once I tap thatspigot.

    1. Your rant is well taken, Chuck. In my lexicon it appears that any and all attempts to justify firearms control in the name of crime prevention, suicide prevention, or rectification of any other social ills are nothing more than the same old attempt to restrict gun ownership to the masses…..which equates to nothing more than control of the masses. I agree that American health care for the mentally ill is pretty close to being deplorable…..to borrow a word from a recent, albeit unsuccessful, presidential candidate. That said, however, in the USA we continue to sustain an undercurrent of derision when it comes to emotional/psychological disorders, in which we tend to acknowledge the problem but still tend to wish it away, because we don’t understand all of it’s ramifications and how to deal with them.

      I don’t pretend to have the answers to the problem of accepting mental health as a part of the overall prevention/treatment in general health, but I am damned sure that attacking the tools that may be abused by the mentally ill is not a valid approach.

  2. Whether suicide or murder, both are killing. As Jeff Cooper noted in 1959: “Killing is a matter f will, not weapons. You can’t control the act by passing laws about the means employed.” If Lib want to prevent suicide by restricting/controlling/banning guns, they should also include ropes, sleeping pills, razor blades, etc. But, hen that is not their true agenda…..only their guise for their actual agenda of controlling people and their means to resist tyranny.

  3. This is all well and good. End of life suicides(where someone is withering away in pain) are not really going to change. The medical community knows this, but with the restrictions put on doctors by Obamacare, these won’t change. Before, those with insurance would usually get thier problem dealt with and control of pain was a factor. Today, those with chronic pain have limits to thier meds, sometimes cutting by 80%. Now, I don’t think that those that have had chronic pain for years will suicide(they have learned how to deal with it), even when they are in pain, they just curtail regular(for them) life.
    I can see the patient who is not served, because of the runaround between the small HMOs and the other providers and all the red tape that allows them to put off thier services for a longer time(maybe something will happen to the patient so they don’t have to do the procedure). I can understand someone in intense pain, that the doctor can not help, consider this.
    The patient should be served in a dignified way and quickly, not wait weeks for one test, just to wait more weeks for a second one.
    No law is going to change this. The person with cancer is in a much more vulernable place than one that is not in pain. Those pain drugs given to these people are strong and in demand by addicts and have a street value. Having a form of protection is imperative for these people.

    1. They understand they will “solve” this. The goal is reduce the numbers and focus on what we can do. ~Dave Dolbee

  4. While our national rate of suicide is not something of which we can take any pride, when health organizations and social workers get to looking at firearms in terms of “health and welfare”, I get a bit suspicious of their motives. Past instance of these partnerships have usually revealed an undercurrent of anti-gun objectives, and we need to pay some attention to just what it is that such marriages may pursuing.

    1. I talked to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) about this in some depth. The Firearm trade industry reached out to them, not the other way around. The NSSF was looking for an organization that had a good reputation and experience. It was first rolled out to a few state as a test bed. Now they are confident and ready to take it national. ~Dave Dolbee

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