Yesterday, the Kansas City Star published an article on the rise of gun suicide and the work of a local organization working to prevent these tragedies, Kids Under Twenty One. The story comes as experts continue to raise the alarm about the heightened risk of suicide amid the pandemic, citing the uptick in calls to suicide prevention hotlines, more young people having suicidal thoughts during the pandemic, and record gun sales.
The piece featured Young Nelson, the associate director of research at Everytown for Gun Safety, discussing Everytown’s research on youth firearm suicides and the importance of including gun suicide in coversations about gun violence. As the Star reported:
Nationally, youth suicides are increasing faster than any other age group, especially among Black youth. Missouri’s rising rate also stands out, and not just among young people, said Young Nelson, associate research director for Everytown for Gun Safety. Suicides for all ages in Missouri increased nearly three times faster than the rest of the country over the last 10 years.
“Two thirds of gun deaths in this country are suicides, so a conversation about preventing gun violence can’t really happen unless we address firearm suicide,” Nelson said. “The most effective thing we can do to help people in crisis is to keep the guns out of their hands.”
Read the full piece here.
Here are resources to help frame ongoing reporting about suicide:
- To illuminate the links between firearm access and suicide and highlight approaches to prevention, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund released reports detailing the potential impact of coronavirus on gun suicide without action from policymakers, the rise in youth suicide over the last decade, and a first of its kind study tracking firearm suicide by congressional district.
- The January 2020 Surgeon General’s report on suicide prevention included recommendations to address gun suicide, such as:
- Storing firearms locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition.
- Implementing extreme risk laws, which allow loved ones or law enforcement to intervene by petitioning a court for an order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns.
- During periods of crisis, temporarily storing firearms out of the home.
- Partnering with gun dealers and shooting ranges to promote and educate gun buyers on firearms safety and safe storage.
- Improving data collection about suicide deaths.
- Increasing the use of lethal means safety counseling and training health care providers, including nurses, social workers, case managers, and peer workers on lethal means safety counseling.
- Researching lethal means safety strategies and interventions, trusted messengers for suicide prevention, and culturally competent implementation of suicide interventions.
- Effectively implementing the new suicide prevention hotline 988 number.
- Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide, which were developed by suicide prevention experts, international suicide prevention and public health organizations, schools of journalism, media organizations and key journalists as well as Internet safety experts. Their partners include, but are not limited to, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, American Association of Suicidology, and Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
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 US 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
To learn more about the work of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers on gun suicide, please don’t hesitate to reach out.