Be SMART: Step Four - Recognize the Role of Guns in Suicide
by the Rev. Mary Haggerty,
Diocesan Missioner for Gun Violence Prevention
October 25, 2023
The fourth step in the Be SMART program is “R” Recognize the Role of Guns in Suicide. First, some facts and figures about firearm suicide:
- Firearm suicide is uniquely lethal—90 percent of suicide attempts using a gun end in death and half of suicides in the US are gun suicides.
- 70 percent of people who survive a suicide attempt will never attempt suicide again.
- Over 80 percent of children under the age of 18 who died by gun suicide used a gun belonging to a parent or relative.
- For people of all ages, access to a gun increases the risk of death by suicide by three times.
Most people who attempt suicide do not die — unless they use a gun. A national survey of high school students found that 20 percent had seriously considered attempting suicide within the last year. And one study showed that 41 percent of adolescents in gun-owning households report having “easy access” to the guns in their home.
As children get older, parents may need to consider taking another look at storage methods. If you’ve been using a simple cable lock, you may want to think about getting a gun safe, for example. We all know how curious children can be, so as they get older and more resourceful we need to act accordingly. Additionally, if you know your loved one is in distress, you might want to consider temporarily removing a gun from your home.
Some signs to look out for when concerned that a loved one may be suicidal:
- Prolonged sadness and depression
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Aggression or agitation
- Increased alcohol or drug use
Talking about killing themselves
Get more information and resources on Child Firearm Suicide.