Washington, D.C., April 29, 2020 - Following a surge in gun purchases this spring, fear caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the stress of mass unemployment and economic uncertainty, Brady echoes the important calls from national organizations around the need to support mental health services, and urges attention to the link between access to firearms and fatal outcomes in suicidal acts.
Brady President Kris Brown shared:
“There is an irrefutable link between a fatal outcome in a suicide attempt and accessibility of a firearm. Right now, as all Americans, particularly medical professionals, first responders and all essential workers, are under extreme strain, and following a surge in gun purchases this spring, concerns about stress and mental health must be top of mind. Tragically, reports in recent days have shown that the consequences of coronavirus reach beyond those infected with the disease.
Firearms account for over half of all deaths by suicide in the United States. It is the most lethal method of suicide — while less than 10 percent of all suicidal attempts are fatal, 90 percent of those involving a firearm end in death. Easy access to a gun in the home increases the risk of death by suicide by 300 percent.
The strains from the current pandemic have led national organizations and leaders to speak out about the toll that the uncertainty and fear we face could take on our mental health. Unprecedented levels of unemployment and the economic uncertainty that comes with that is one such stressor, as are the long hours, and feelings of helplessness that our medical professionals and first responders face.
Suicide is often precipitated by mulitple, complex factors, but one of the best solutions for those undergoing times of crisis who are at risk of harming themselves is to ensure that they do not have access to a firearm. Ensuring that a firearm is stored properly, meaning locked in a safe, unloaded, and with ammunition stored separately, creates a barrier to accessing the weapon for an individual in crisis, buying critical time for them to seek help. Gun owners who stored their firearms locked or unloaded were at least 60 percent less likely to die from firearm related suicide than owners who store their firearms unlocked and/or loaded. Safe storage can save lives and prevent a temporary crisis from becoming a permanent tragedy.
One of the most important roles that any of us play is friend. It feels simple, but check in on your neighbors, friends and family. It may be uncomfortable, but in those conversations ask about guns in the home. Facts show that it may just save a life. For those in crisis, help is available no matter what you are going through today. Please call the free and confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.”
Suicide by gun accounts for the majority of gun deaths in the United States, 24,432 deaths in 2018. Suicide rates have been increasing, with a crude rate of 14.8 per 100,000 Americans in 2018. Death by suicide using a firearm affects youth, as well. For minors who have used a firearm in a suicide attempt, 82 percent used a firearm belonging to a family member, and 64 percent of those guns were stored unlocked. For more information, as well, listen to Brady’s podcast episode with Dr. Jonathan Singer and Colleen Creighton of the American Association of Suicidology and visit Brady’s fact sheet on how to support survivors and people impacted by gun violence.
For resources during this pandemic, please visit the Pandemic Crisis Services Response Coalition: https://www.covidmentalhealthsupport.org
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the free and confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Textline by texting HOME to 741741.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.