P.O Box 41194 Eugene, OR 97404

Suicide Prevention Is Gun Safety

Nov 4, 2021 | Blogs

As the President of the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation, I wear many hats. I’m an instructor, a marketer, a secretary, and many other things. For the most part I really enjoy it, even though I do get overwhelmed and emotionally drained at times. One important part that I do for the organization is that I take part in many different suicide prevention programs. Here in Oregon and across the nation. We are happy to partner with many other organizations doing the important work behind the scenes to create effective campaigns designed to save lives. There is something that has never been addressed throughout the entire time of 2 weeks into flattening of the curve. It is mental health and increased cases of suicides. All loss of life is too much and people are in need of help. One of the organizations that I work closely with is Walk The Talk America. They are a nonprofit based in Nevada. One thing that they are trying to accomplish is to end the stigma associated between gun owners and suicide prevention. One of the biggest challenges reaching gun owners is the stigma that prevents them from asking for help in times of crisis because of the fear of them losing their 2A rights.

I spend much of my time in meetings with many different groups monthly in between my responsibilities to LLB and KSF. I have met some really great people, a very diverse group of people that have come together to work to help save lives. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to travel to Portland this week with the founders of Walk The Talk America, Michael Sodini and Jake Wiskerchen to help them with one of their trainings. They have been sponsored by Yamhill County to put on their Guns and Mental Health seminar. I am very blessed to be teaching part of the seminar. There is an intersection between gun safety, accident prevention, and suicide prevention. I will be showing the attendees different firearms. I will be showing them how they all work, answering any questions that they might have and hopefully dispelling any rumors that might be preconceived. Many of those that will be in attendance are clinicians, doctors, and state or county employees. There is a good chance that they have little or ZERO experience with firearms or maybe they are against them. I look forward to doing what I do to show them what it is like to own firearms. Safety and proper storage will be a big focus of mine.

When we look at the data here in Oregon. We have the 9th highest suicides in the country. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Oregon for 15-45 year olds and the eighth leading cause of death overall. 54% of all suicides involve firearms. The number goes up to over 70% for our veteran community and over 80% in rural communities. In Oregon 80% of firearm deaths are suicide. 50% of Oregon youth suicides involve firearms. This is where proper storage comes into play especially with our youth. If we can create space between a firearm and a person that has a moment of crisis, chances are we can save them. Preventing access to our firearms in young adults will go along way to prevent tragedies. Currently under Oregon law secure storage of all firearms is required, there is no telling yet whether this will work or not to save any lives. The evidence is antidotal at best at this point and many will scoff at the states overreach. As a safety organization we do believe in education secure storage of your firearm when its not on your person. This will do a lot to keep your kids from coming across an unsecured firearm and having an accident. Which in all reality is not an accident, it’s more negligence than anything. Why did that kid not know what to do if they ever found that firearm? Why was that gun not properly stored? Both questions should be answered by parents.

Kids are facing many issues in today’s day and age. Technology, online learning, and increased isolation has led to increased suicide rates in our children. Cyber bullying has became a big problem which has been a big part of this problem. Keeping your firearms out of the reach of hormonal teens will help create the space needed to save their life. It’s important to teach our kids that there are setbacks in life, it’s how they deal with those setbacks that is important. We need to be normalizing these talks about mental health in our circles of friends. I try to be pretty transparent about my own challenges in with mental health. The goal is to let people know that they are not alone and there is help available if they want to reach out. What people need to realize is, that it is OK to NOT be OK. We all have ups and downs in life. We are resilient and WE matter. As painful as it might be in the short term, the trauma caused by the act of suicide. Will last a lifetime for your family. These are the unintended consequences and why many view suicide as a cowards way out or selfish. Both may be true depending on your perspective. I’m not here to judge, but to offer support and empathy. I see you, I hear you, and there is help available. All you have to do is reach out. Until next time. Be safe!

Mental Health Resources:

National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Walk The Talk America

https://walkthetalkamerica.org

Hold My Guns

https://www.holdmyguns.org

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