AURORA, Kan. – The Kansas chapters of Moms Demand Action and Student Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statement in response to the fatal self-inflicted shooting of 14-year-old Jaylee Chillson. According to police reports, Chillson fatally shot herself in front of a police deputy who was trying to convince the teen to return home from a party.
“We are heartbroken for Jaylee Chillson’s family, and the thousands of families across America every year who have their children taken by firearm suicide,” said Sharon Miller, gun suicide survive and a volunteer with the Kansas chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We are committed to continuing to fight against the youth firearm suicide crisis in Kansas, including advocating to ways we can intervene before children get access to guns, which often leads to deadly outcomes, like requiring that firearms be safely and securely stored in the home.”
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Firearm suicide is a preventable public health crisis. One of the most effective things we can do to help people in crisis is to temporarily restrict their access to firearms. Nearly six out of every 10 gun deaths in the U.S. are gun suicides, and having access to a firearm triples someone’s risk of death by suicide. Most people who attempt suicide do not die—unless they use a gun. Gun suicides in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2022, according to provisional data from the CDC. Nearly six out of every 10 gun deaths are suicides, and having access to a firearm triples someone’s risk of death by suicide. Researchers have raised alarm about the surge of gun sales, the number of unsecured firearms in homes, and the ongoing stress and anxiety of our communities — especially among young people and veterans whose rates of gun suicide have exponentially increased over the past decade.
This September, Everytown for Gun Safety is honoring those lost to gun suicide and advocating for interventions that can disrupt gun access and save lives. This “continuum of intervention” presents a range of actions that can be taken depending on the severity of the crisis and other factors, including whether the person in crisis owns firearms, how many firearms are in the home, how those firearms are stored, and how willing the person is to voluntarily reduce their own access to firearm. The continuum of firearm access intervention can be found here.
Kansas has incredibly weak gun laws. Kansas has no law requiring background checks on unlicensed gun sales or a law requiring that firearms be securely stored, away from children. In an average year, 456 people die and 655 are wounded by guns in Kansas – and 68% of gun deaths are by firearm suicide. An average of 52 children and teens die by guns every year in the state, of which 47% of these deaths are suicides and 49% are homicides. Gun violence in Kansas costs $1,958 per person each year. Gun deaths and injuries cost Kansas $5.7 billion each year, of which $95.1 million is paid by taxpayers.
More information about gun violence in Kansas is available here.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can call or text 988, or visit 988lifeline.org/chat to chat with a counselor from the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress anywhere in the US.