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Rocky Mountain MIRECC for VA Suicide Prevention

4 August 2017

Lethal Means Safety

Why Suicide & Firearm Safety Matters

A locked firearm can mean the difference between a tragic outcome and a life saved for someone in crisis.

Though Veterans are well-versed in firearm safety, all owners should understand that during emotional or stressful times limiting access to their firearms could prevent suicide.

Suicide & Firearms: Facts that Matter

  • Firearms are in the TOP 5 leading causes of injury-related deaths.
  • About 1/2 of all suicides are by firearm.
  • Nationally, suicides account for roughly 2 OUT OF EVERY 3 firearm deaths.
    – Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2013
  • Veterans and Servicemembers most frequently used FIREARMS to end their lives.
    – Department of Defense Suicide Event Report, 2014
    – VA Suicide Data Report, 2016
  • Approximately 85% of suicide attempts with a firearm are fatal.
    – Center for Disease Control and Prevention Surveillance for Fatal and Nonfatal Injuries, 2001
  • However, evidence suggests that states requiring handgun LOCKS have lower overall suicide rates and lower firearm suicide rates.
    – American Journal of Public Health, 2015

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Order Gun Locks/Download Brochure

Order the free Gun Cable Locks (each lock is packaged with the Firearm Safety Matters brochure).

Cable Gun Lock

Download the Firearm Safety Matters brochure - update 4 August 2017

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Talking to Patients about Firearm Safety

15 June 2016 - Adam Hoffberg talks with Dr. Marian (Emmy) Betz about how to talk with patients about firearm safety in relation to suicide risk. Dr. Betz is an emergency room physician at the University of Colorado Hospital and has worked extensively in the area of lethal means safety for suicide prevention. Her most recent article published June 2016 is titled "Lethal Means Access and Assessment Among Suicidal Emergency Department Patients."

An interesting part of this far ranging discussion occurs near the end when Dr. Betz discusses a program in Colorado, the Colorado Gun Shop Project. The program is modeled on the New Hampshire Firearm Safety Coalition. The purpose of the project is to collaborate with gun shop retailers, gun range owners, and firearm safety course instructors to promote suicide prevention awareness, recognize suicidal behavior, and limit the sale of firearms to any customer who is suicidal. See the links below to learn more. The podcast is approximately 26 minutes long.


From Elementary School to Retirement: Suicide Prevention Throughout the Life Cycle

30 November 2016 - Richard Egan shares his professional journey, which spans 26 years’ service with the Air Force (starting with munitions, “bombs and bullets”) to Suicide Prevention Training and Outreach Facilitator, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Suicide Prevention. Nevada represents the only State to reduce (by a small amount) suicide rates from 1999 – 2014, while the rest of the nation increased upwards of 24%. How did they achieve this result? Mr. Egan describes a comprehensive life cycle approach, starting with social-emotional learning in elementary school, to supporting older residents, many of whom have left family/friends behind in other states. This podcast also highlights Nevada’s access to lethal means’ programs, proactively reaching and training community members that may come in contact with at-risk individuals. The podcast is approximately 40 minutes long.


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