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Firearm Suicide Prevention
Home > Education > Safety > Firearm Suicide Prevention

When we talk about firearm deaths, we tend to think of homicides. Robberies, violent attacks and mass shootings come to mind. But according to CDC data, 62% of firearm deaths in the United States between 2010 and 2014 were suicides.  That's close to two-thirds of firearm deaths! It stands to reason, that if we do a better job at educating the public on suicide prevention, we can vastly reduce the number of firearm deaths.

For gun owners, protecting your family takes more than just keeping them safe from attacks by violent criminals. It also involves being aware of the warning signs of suicide and the steps to prevent it.


Suicide Deaths in the United States

suicide_and_homicide_rates_in_the_united_states_2000-2014.png

About the Author:

Instructor Armand is the founder and chief instructor of Shield Personal Safety Training. He's a USCCA Certified Firearms Instructor, Utah Certified Concealed Firearms Instructor, NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, NRA Certified Range Safety Officer, Refuse To Be A Victim® Certified Instructor, CA DOJ FSC Certified Instructor, CA DOJ Certified Fingerprint Roller, hunter, and CCW permit holder.

 
SIRT Training Pistols
 

(Graphic credit: www.sprc.org)

57% of suicides among males are by firearm.
(Source: WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports, 1999-2014)


Time & Distance

Means matter.  Putting time & distance between a suicidal person and a gun increases their odds of survival and may save their life.  You may ask, "But won't they just substitute another method?"  Well some might, but most any other means is less likely to kill.  Without immediate access to a quick method of suicide, some may delay their attempt.  Having access to a firearm during a suicidal crisis increases the odds that an attempter will die, for the follow reasons:


  • ​Suicidal crises are often brief.  48% of people admitted to a hospital after attempting suicide said that they'd been thinking about suicide for 10 minutes or less before the attempt. (Source: http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/19026258)  The movement from suicidal idea to action is sometimes rapid.
  • The deadliness of an attempt depends in part on the method used.  Guns are the most deadly method of suicide.
  • 90% of those who attempt suicide and survive don't go on to kill themselves. (Source: Owens D, Horrocks J, and House A. Fatal and non-fatal repetition of self-harm: systematic review. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2002;181:193-199.)



Suicide Warning Signs

Most people who become suicidal have struggled with ongoing, underlying problems.  Pay attention to these warning signs, which are not always obvious. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased. Take any threat of suicide seriously.


  • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, or being a burden to others.
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
  • Experiencing relational, social, work, or financial loss.
  • Giving away prized possessions.



Who's at Risk of Suicide?

People who struggle with depression, substance abuse, or other mental health problems, especially if they're also facing a painful crisis like a relationship break-up, arrest, trouble at work, or financial crises – problems that make you feel hopeless and trapped.

Teens at Home?  Teens who die by suicide may show few or no warning signs.  A wise precaution: store all guns locked if you have children at home - especially teenagers.


Protecting One Another

We can protect one another. Be alert to signs of suicide in friends and family.  If someone is at risk, help keep guns from them until they recover.  It's like holding on to a friend's keys when they're drunk.


Storage Options

If a household member is at risk of suicide, you could store guns away from home until they've recovered (e.g., with a relative you trust, at a self-storage unit), or change the locks and make sure they can't find the keys/combination.

Another option: don't keep ammunition at home until they've recovered.

Hiding guns isn't recommended. Family members often know one another's hiding places.

If it's a friend at risk, you could offer to hold onto their guns, but check state and local laws first to see if this is legal.


What if it's YOU at risk?

If you feel yourself spiraling down, take precautions before things get to a crisis point.

Any strategy that builds some time between you and a gun in a suicidal crisis will keep you safer.

Store your guns off-site temporarily, or ask someone you trust to hold onto the keys, or store keys somewhere they're not available in a crisis like a bank safe deposit box, or disassemble guns or lock up at least one essential component of the gun.

These are temporary measures until you've recovered.


Getting Help

National Suicide Lifeline:
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

In an emergency, Call 911 and ask for a CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Officer

To learn more about suicide prevention, visit:
www.sprc.org

God bless and be safe,

Instructor Armand
Founder and Chief Instructor
Shield Personal Safety Training

​Copyright © 2016 Shield Personal Safety Training. All Rights Reserved.
This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by any means without prior written permission from Shield Personal Safety Training. For copyright information, contact info@shieldpst.com.

"Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight"  -- Psalm 144:1

"When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace"  -- Luke 11:21

"he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."  -- Luke 22:36

(Graphic credit: www.sprc.org)

Suicide is the #2 cause of death among people ages 10-34, and the #4 cause of death among people ages 35-54.
(Source: WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, 1999-2014)

(Graphic credit: www.sprc.org)

Suicides consistently outnumber homicides. The suicide rate is trending up, while the homicide rate is trending down.
(Source: WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports, 1999-2014)

Firearm Suicide Prevention

(Graphic credit: www.sprc.org)

More than half of suicides are by firearm.
(Source: WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports, 1999-2014)

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