Preventing Suicide While Protecting Gun Rights

February 23, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


Public health experts are teaming up with firearms stakeholders on nationwide efforts to prevent suicide. In 2009, Harvard’s Means Matter campaign helped launch the New Hampshire Gun Shop Project, a joint effort by public health professionals and firearms retailers to educate gun owners about suicide prevention. Now in more than a dozen other states, the project also served as a model for the recent partnership between the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and National Shooting Sports Foundation. The two organizations are collaborating to raise awareness about firearm suicide and promote reduced access to guns among people in crisis. According to Means Matter Director Cathy Barber, these partnerships help send the message that suicide prevention is an issue of gun safety, not gun restriction. Barber gave the example of prevention messaging that expands on the “ten commandments” of firearms safety. “The ’11th commandment’ is to be alert to signs of suicide risk in friends and family, and help keep guns from them until they’ve recovered,” she said. “Once you say it, it makes sense to people, especially if they understand that you’re not attacking guns.”

Spark Extra! Watch SPRC’s SPARK Talk on the New Hampshire Gun Shop Project.