I had an awesome opportunity about a month ago to take the QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper certification from a dear friend and Second Amendment advocate, Sarah Joy Albrecht of Hold My Guns. Sarah is on a very important and specific mission to provide aid and assistance for those who might need to seek out therapy, have a support system or connect with voluntary, private, offsite storage during a mental health crisis or times of personal need.
Statistics Surrounding Firearms and Suicide
Part of the training Sarah led brought up a very interesting and important topic about suicides at gun stores and gun ranges. Some of the data from researchers identifies statistics regarding firearms suicides at public shooting ranges. It notes that 88 percent of decedents arrived alone, and 86 percent of guns were rented from the range. And in some cases, “people drove to the range and took their lives in the parking lot with their own gun.”
Sarah mentioned how important it is for all of us in the 2A community to work with our home ranges and read the standard operating procedures (SOPs) used by that group or organization. What Sarah has discovered is that there is either no information or not enough information in the SOPs to support the range staff, RSOs, volunteers or participants should there ever be a crisis.
Questions to Ask Yourself and Others
Some of the questions Sarah urges all responsibly armed to address and solidify answers for include the following:
- Is there a plan for addressing someone on the range who is demonstrating clues and warning signs of suicide?
- If an RSO or instructor sees someone exhibiting warning signs, what should they do? How can they make the environment safe? What precautions should they take for their own safety? And what about the safety of other shooters on the range?
- Is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (800-273-8255) easily accessible? Are there local crisis responsive teams, veterans’ support lines or other community resources that address risk factors?
- Does the range or gun shop offer suicide prevention training?
Goal: Preventing Firearms Suicides
Having known several friends who used firearms to end their own lives, this topic reaches very close to home. And suicide prevention should be a big concern for all of our gun community. We know that a lot of folks who are anti-gun use statistics about suicide against gun owners. Perhaps we can help make a difference and change those statistics for good.
While not everybody may be able to get suicide prevention certification, at the very least, we can get the conversations going. And we can work together to make sure we have better policies and procedures in place at gun stores and gun ranges all across the country.
Will you help?