If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health matters,
please call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 800-273-8255, or visit 988lifeline.org.
Convened as a cross-sector, cross-partisan group, the Dialogue forged trust, deepened mutual understanding,
and identified solutions to address the urgent issue of preventing firearm suicide.
Suicide deaths by firearm are not inevitable. Suicidal ideation and periods of acute crisis are often short in duration, so safe practices and well-constructed interventions can save lives.
Dialogue participants sought not to stigmatize or blame, but to build understanding among gun owners and non-gun owners. Convergence facilitators fostered this environment by building an awareness that the individuals from both groups are incredibly diverse, with a wide range of cultural identifications based on geography, gender, income group, race, sexual orientation, and beyond.
Any person struggling with suicidal ideation should receive competent care, support, and resources. Participants of the Dialogue worked hard to avoid the pitfalls of well-worn debates that fall back on generalizations, which alienate those from differing backgrounds and perspectives.
Across the political spectrum, there is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the challenge of preventing firearm suicide and how to discuss it. The Dialogue’s comprehension of causal issues and collaborative solutions came from the hard work of listening and shared learning – from breakdowns of firearm suicide data by demographics to understanding the complexities of gun ownership. The two main learnings were:
50% of all suicides in recent years are by firearm.
60% of all gun deaths in America each year are suicides.
Approximately 69.4% of veteran suicide deaths involve a firearm.
In 2017, Veterans accounted for 13.5% of all deaths by suicide among U.S. adults.
Programs and initiatives focused on firearm suicide prevention need more funding, with the recognition that public funding may be limited to initiatives with a long-established track record. The report provides private, philanthropic funders with guidance in their work to support firearm suicide prevention.
Funding should cover both promising, innovative efforts built on established principles, as well as those with strong, evidence-informed track records.
Gun owners, gun rights groups, and the gun industry should be supported, encouraged, and incentivized to be outspoken in ways that strategically drive behavior change to prevent firearm suicide.
Funders, both public and philanthropic, should study suicide, firearms, and suicide prevention strategies via partnerships with scientists, clinicians, consumers of mental health services, those with a range of lived experience, gun owner-aligned groups, and others.
Education campaigns, including bolstering existing efforts and filling gaps, are critical for change. The campaigns need to do a range of things, including accounting for the complex perceptions of gun ownership that are often dependent on race and ethnicity. In addition, diverse leaders – including legislators who can influence research and funding – need to share existing program information to expand their reach and scale.
Dialogue Members also propose an increase in training and competency regarding treatment for those with suicidal ideation and access to guns following best practices so firearm owners don’t forego care.
Recognizing that others possess good ideas and valuable insights, Dialogue Members invite people from across sectors and backgrounds to engage in constructive efforts, and work together to prevent these deaths.
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