In 2017, firearms were used in nearly half of all suicides among Americans and nearly 70% of Veteran suicide deaths. While close to 50% of Veterans own a gun, most of them are dedicated to firearm safety. Studies have shown that people who keep their guns locked or unloaded are much less likely to die from suicide compared to those who do not. VA’s Acting Director for Suicide Prevention, Dr. Matt Miller, co-authored a recent article with Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Steve Sanetti, CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Research has shown that the period of acute suicide risk is often brief,” Miller, Gebbia, and Sanetti wrote. “It is a myth that a person who wants to die by suicide will find a way to do so. If a lethal means such as a firearm is unavailable at the time of emotional crisis, the attempt may be prevented.”
To learn more about safe storage best practices – download this brochure from VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
Friends and family of Veterans can use this guide to learn helpful tips for having a conversation with at-risk Veterans about safe storage practices.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.