Whitney/Strong Prioritizing a Reduction in Suicide Gun Deaths

Our mission statement is quite simple-- Realize fewer lives lost to gun violence by advocating for and executing responsible gun ownership. If you are serious about reducing gun deaths, you have to get serious about suicide prevention as suicides account for more than half of our country’s gun deaths.

Did you know that firearm suicide rates are at a twenty-year high? From 10.5 deaths per 100,000 in 1994 to 13 per 100,000 in 2014 according to the CDC.

Or that firearms are the most lethal method by which people attempt suicide? 85% of suicide attempts with a firearm end in death. *

Or that suicidal deliberation occurs in 1 hour or less 71% of the time? Suicidal deliberation is the amount of time that passes between the time someone decides to complete suicide and when they actually attempt suicide. *

Or that nine out of ten people who attempt suicide and survive will not go on to die by suicide later?

* https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/

All of this is to say that when it comes to suicide reduction- means matters. Harvard Public School of Health studies indicate that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide by that method declines.

Early on, our team became interested in two suicide prevention programs that originated out of New Hampshire: The Gun Shop Project and Counseling Against Lethal Means (CALM).

The first – Gun Shop Project – has a compelling backstory that is worth sharing.

In 2009, three different people purchased a firearm from Ralph Demicco’s gun shop, Riley’s Sport Shop in New Hampshire, and used them to commit suicide within the same five-day period. In that same year, Demicco partnered with Elaine Frank, co-chair of the New Hampshire Firearm Safety Coalition, to start the Gun Shop Project. Per Frank, the project is a campaign to prevent gun suicides and has two primary goals:

  1. “Engage gun shop owners in adding suicide prevention to the things that they screen for on a regular basis when making a sale – to try and prevent selling a gun to someone who is actively suicidal.”

  2. “Utilize gun shops as a place to educate customers on the tie in between suicide and firearms, and to try and engage them in holding on to guns when someone they are close to is at risk for suicide.”

“The common ground is that everybody – regardless of whether they’re pro-gun – virtually everybody is anti-suicide,” said Elaine Frank

Whitney/Strong will partner with Elaine and gun shop owners throughout KY and OH to promote this important program.

The second program, CALM, also originated out of New Hampshire and was developed by Elaine Frank and Mark Ciocca.

CALM training, available in-person or online, is focused on how to reduce access to the methods people use to kill themselves. It covers how to (1) identify people who could benefit from lethal means counseling, (2) ask about their access to lethal methods, and (3) work with them – and their families – to reduce access.

The training is beneficial to any provider who interacts with individuals at risk for suicide. However, Whitney/Strong will focus on implementation within the medical communities of KY and OH.

If you believe you can assist us with standing up either program, please reach out through whitneystrongorganization@gmail.com. Additionally, please show support financially by donating here: https://www.whitneystrong.org/checkout/donate?donatePageId=5ba826bae4966bf0ebf267de.