Health Workers, Gun Industry Partner on Anti-Suicide Drive

Gun dealers, range owners and firearms instructors have found that suicide prevention fits into their mission to promote the safe use of guns. Hundreds around the U.S. share suicide-prevention literature, emphasize prevention techniques in concealed-carry classes, teach workers to recognize distress among customers and welcome prevention advocates to firearm trade shows.

A 2014 suicide at a Utah gun range led the three co-owners to join a growing movement that aims to reduce gun suicides by spreading prevention techniques among firearm owners and sellers. It’s an effort that is slowly sweeping through gun country ─ states with high rates of firearm ownership, like Utah, that have shouldered a disproportionate weight of America’s rise in suicides, NBC News reports. The effort has brought together longtime adversaries: the medical community, which sees guns as a public health threat, and the firearms industry, which distrusts most efforts to restrict access to guns. Gun dealers, range owners and firearms instructors have found that suicide prevention fits into their mission to promote the safe use of guns. Hundreds around the U.S. share suicide-prevention literature, emphasize prevention techniques in concealed-carry classes, teach workers to recognize distress among customers and welcome prevention advocates to firearm trade shows.

The partnership has unfolded quietly, in contrast to the public divisiveness that characterizes the debate over gun violence. It originated from mental health researchers and advocates, who see curbing firearm suicides ─ which make up more than half of all U.S. suicides, nearly 23,000 in 2016 ─ as integral to reducing the number of firearm deaths. “This is a new way to go about reducing suicidal persons’ access to guns ─ not by promoting an anti-gun agenda but by asking gun owners to be part of the solution,” said Catherine Barber, who directs the Means Matter Campaign to prevent suicide at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center. “Vilifying them isn’t going to work.” The public-health emphasis on gun suicides is driven in part by statistics showing that they are far more prevalent than homicides committed with a firearm.

from https://thecrimereport.org