While we stay at home, we can all do our part to protect our families from accidental firearm death and injury.
It is estimated that 4.6 million American youth live in homes with loaded, unsecured firearms. 75% of kids know where that gun is stored in their homes. Every day, 8 kids are unintentionally injured or killed by unlocked guns in people’s homes. Let’s make sure this number doesn’t rise with schools closing and families socially distancing.
Utah has a high rate of gun ownership. A Harvard study on firearms and suicide showed a correlation between gun ownership and our high suicide rate — not because Utahns are more depressed, but because guns are the most lethal means for suicide. 51% of suicide fatalities are by firearm, and 85% of gun-related deaths in Utah are suicides.
Proper storage practices are essential for saving lives from accidental shootings and suicide. Here are some things you can do to keep your family and others safe.
1. MAKE SAFE STORAGE A PRIORITY
- Always store your guns locked, unloaded, and out of reach from children and those who should not have access to firearms. Keeping guns locked and unloaded reduces family fire risk by 73 percent.
- Have ongoing conversations with your family about responsible gun ownership and gun safety.
- Always store ammunition separately from its gun. This reduces the risk of family fire up to 61 percent.
- If you are not confident about firearm safety in your home or have doubts about gun ownership, consider other home protection alternatives, such as home security systems or guard dogs.
- Reassess your safe storage plan yearly. Have circumstances changed?
- Consider storing your firearms with others. Sometimes distance from firearms is the safest option. In Utah firearms may be turned in to friends or law enforcement for temporary safe keeping and retrieved at any time.
2. CHECK IN ON THE WELLBEING OF YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS
- Ask questions to find out how your loved ones are feeling. Please note that asking specific questions of kids about suicide is safe and is a key tool for suicide prevention. Learn about what kinds of questions to ask using tools like the QPR Institute’s training (Question. Persuade. Refer.) or the National Institute of Mental Health’s ASQ toolkit and parent resources.
3. GET HELP
- If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, reach out right away to any of these services for help:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Call the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1)
- Utah Statewide CrisisLine at 1-801-587-3000
- Use the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741 and connect with a Crisis Counselor
- Find support from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention