NSSF: Help Prevent Suicide by Firearm

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has been very committed to reducing deaths from firearms in responsible and common sense ways. The NSSF focuses on reducing deaths from negligent handling or unauthorized use, improving hunter safety, and also preventing suicide by firearms. The President of the NSSF, Steven Sanetti, has written an article detailing the NSSF’s partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Read it here:

Our Continuing Efforts to Help Prevent Suicide by Firearm

NSSF LogoI was in Phoenix last Saturday at the invitation of Dr. Keita Franklin, director of the Department of Defense Suicide Prevention Office, to participate in a panel discussion at the American Association of Suicidology Conference. The National Shooting Sports Foundation welcomes such opportunities to let those working in the field of suicide prevention know about the firearms industry’s efforts to engage collectively on this issue and also to alert them to our new initiative with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Since suicides account for nearly two-thirds of all fatalities involving firearms, far more than homicides or accidents, the issue also deserves our attention. In recent years, a number of groups dedicated to suicide prevention recognized they could be more successful educating the firearms-owning community about suicide risk factors and warning signs, as well as options to safely store their firearms when not in use, if they partnered with NSSF. As the trade association for the firearms industry, NSSF enjoys credibility with gun owners and is known for its longtime safety efforts such as Project ChildSafe, which has distributed more than 37 million firearm safety kits that include a gun lock in more than 15,000 communities across the country, and has seen firearms accidents plummet to less than 1 percent of all accidental deaths.

We are fully engaged on this issue. In recent years, NSSF’s collaborations on suicide prevention include the State of Utah, the U.S. Veterans Administration, U.S. Department of Defense, Connecticut Mental Health Department, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and mental health groups across the country. We will work with any group that will set aside the politics surrounding firearms and will forego anti-gun messaging, which unfortunately hinders potentially promising firearms safety collaborations and turns off gun owners, and focus on delivering genuine firearms safety messages to the right audience.Suicide_by_Firearm_Prevention

We are hopeful of helping to save many lives through our groundbreaking partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the country. We’re currently piloting a suicide prevention education program in four states involving firearms retailers, shooting ranges and AFSP state chapters. Among the materials being provided to retailers and ranges for distribution to gun owners is the new “AFSP-NSSF Firearms and Suicide Prevention” brochure, which NSSF also provided to suicide prevention leaders attending the Phoenix conference.

The key message is that suicide is preventable. By understanding risk factors, such as depression and substance abuse, and warning signs such as withdrawal or person talking about doing harm to themselves, coupled with keeping firearms securely stored when not in use, you can help save lives and reduce the number of suicides involving firearms.

As AFSP Chief Medical Officer Christine Moutier observes, “By increasing public education of firearms and suicide prevention, and by encouraging the use of safe storage options, 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.”

The response to my presentation at the conference was extremely positive, and I was pleased to hear from so many how appreciative they are that NSSF is engaged on this important issue.

Learn more at www.afsp.org/firearms.

Have you or someone you know been affected by suicide by firearm? Consider getting involved. Click here to see ways you can make a difference.

2 Comments On This Article

  1. I’m a former LEO , (25 years), and sadly I’m convinced that all suicides are NOT preventable. Back in the 80’s I had a close friend and colleague, who had actually joined my department well after I did, but was a “ladder climber”, and soon made Lieutenant. I saw less of him after that, as I was a “road toad” by choice and didn’t have to hang around the building too much.

    As fate would have it, I ran into him one evening at the gas pumps, after not seeing him in probably 6 months or so. It was just like old times, he was his usual happy go lucky self, and we chatted and shot the breeze for maybe 20 minutes. 12 hours later, he shot himself in the head while his wife was getting ready for work, and his kids getting ready for school. I’ve thought back on that last conversation at least a thousand times, and there was absolutely NOTHING said or implied that he was going to do it. He wasn’t a drinker, no money or marital problems…no note, gave away no belongings, nothing. Autopsy indicated a totally clean to screen. To this day, I’m convinced nobody would have seen this coming.

  2. A number of ranges here in FL have experienced suicides – some more than once. A person will rent a gun and buy a box of ammo and head to the range firing only one shot. I have noticed that many ranges will now only rent a gun to someone who is bringing in another gun that they already own or is accompanied by a relative or friend. It’s a good start.

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