Today marks the end of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Everytown and Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers are committed to honoring gun suicide survivors and advocating for proven solutions to prevent gun suicide including extreme risk laws, waiting period legislation, secure storage of firearms, and increased access to mental health and medical services everyday of the year.
Firearm suicide is a preventable public health crisis, and one of the most effective things we can do to help people in crisis is to keep a gun out of their hands. Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. are gun suicides, and having access to a firearm triples someone’s risk of death by suicide. Most people who attempt suicide do not die—unless they use a gun.
To speak with a policy expert, Moms Demand Action volunteer and/or Students Demand Action volunteer, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Here are some highlights from the month:
NPR — The Pandemic Has Researchers Worried About Teen Suicide
“Not having guns in the home, or keeping them safely locked away, is another overlooked factor in suicide risk. A new analysis of the latest CDC data, just released by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, found that the rate of specifically firearm suicides increased 51% for 15-24 year olds in the decade ending in 2018. Among 10- to 14-year-olds, who have a lower rate of suicide to begin with, suicide by gun increased a staggering 214% in that time frame.”
Washington Post — Opinion | I’m a veteran who was suicidal. It’s a good thing I didn’t have access to a gun.
“I am writing this during National Suicide Prevention Month because I’ve learned over the past few years how fortunate I was to not have a gun at my lowest moments. Gun suicide is particularly dangerous for veterans such as me, who often refuse to talk about our feelings right up until those feelings overcome us. Seventy percent of veterans who die by suicide do so with a gun; the rate is 50 percent among non-veterans. Between 2005 and 2017, more than 53,000 veterans died by gun suicide — more than 13 times the number of service members who were killed in action during the U.S. engagements in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria combined.
Access to a gun in moments of crisis is so dangerous because suicide is, as they say, opportunistic, meaning that it would have been all too easy for me, during my dark days, to have one too many drinks and end my life quickly. Alcohol and guns are a dangerous, often lethal combination. Having access to a firearm also triples someone’s risk of death by suicide, and gun suicides are nearly always fatal while non-firearm suicide attempts are not.
I’m living proof of those statistics: I was able to walk away from the bridge that night, but I wouldn’t have been able to walk away from a bullet.”
Newsweek — Opinion | After losing my son to gun suicide, I turned my grief into action
“On that December day, Ty-Key and Keondrick were shot by two people they were in the car with from the backseat. Keondrick was killed, but Ty-Key, who was shot in the head, miraculously lived. But, he never fully recovered. My 17-year-old would never be the same.
Therapy helped him cope, but he never healed. And, on January 27, 2017, Ty-Key shot and killed himself. He told me he could no longer bear the pain.
Suicide, particularly firearm suicide, is often seen as an older, whiter, more rural problem, but Ty-Key didn’t fit into those groups — he was young, Black, and a city kid through and through. And while Black Americans make up a smaller percentage of all firearm suicide deaths, the rate has increased 30% over the past decade. Among young Black Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, the rate of firearm suicide has increased 83%.”
Boise State Public Radio — Report: Alarming Rise In Idaho Youth Firearm Suicides Rate
“The gun control advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety analyzed national firearm suicide trends for youth ages 10 to 24.
It found that Idaho youth completing suicide by firearm rose by 105% over the past 10 years. That’s far higher than the national rate, which increased by 56% over the same time period.
States with high rates of gun ownership, like Idaho, tend to have higher suicide rates. Experts say storing guns safely, including keeping ammunition and firearms separate, can reduce risk.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7. 1-800-273-TALK(8255) suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You may also contact the Crisis Text Line, which provides trained crisis counseling services over text 24/7. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the U.S. crisistextline.org.
Free and confidential mental health, suicide prevention, and crisis intervention services and resources are also available to people in-need of help, loved ones of those in-need, and frontline workers through the Pandemic Crisis Services Response Coalition at https://www.covidmentalhealthsupport.org.