Gun store owners, doctors, and Family Members are key allies in preventing suicide by gun.

We generally think of suicide as being an individual struggle. However, looking over this article from The Trace, 10 Essential Facts About Guns and Suicide, what stood out to me was the unexpected people who could help prevent suicide by gun, including:

  1. Gun Store owners

  2. Doctors

  3. Family Members

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Gun Store owners:

While people purchase firearms for many reasons, many purchase a gun with the specific intent to use it to end their life. Gun store owners have begun addressing the risk of suicide in firearm safety training sessions and information provided at the time of purchase. It’s responsible, and while it’s still too early to show measurable results, shows promise. People struggling with suicidal thoughts have a hard time reaching out and asking for help, so the more opportunities for discussion around the topic we can create, the safer we all can be.

Doctors:

In recent years, primary care doctors have begun taking on more responsibility when it comes to mental health. However, it is not common practice to talk to patients about gun access at the doctor’s office. Gun violence has become a national health crisis, and guns pose a serious risk to those struggling with suicidal thoughts. It’s important for doctors to know if their patients have access to a firearm so that they can more accurately asses how at risk their patients are.

Family Members:

While it may be expected for family members to support struggling with suicidal thoughts, we often don’t consider this explicitly from a gun access point of view. Discussion is irrefutably important, but so is removing access to firearms since they pose an immediate threat. Having a gun in the home significantly increases risk of suicide. If the gun belongs to the suicidal individuals, family members can petition to have them temporarily removed with an Extreme Risk Protection order in some states.

To learn more about suicide prevention, and what is being done during September, National Suicide Prevention Month, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or use their Lifeline Online Chat. You can also connect to the Crisis Text Line by texting CONNECT to 741741.