Protecting Yourself and Those Around You
There’s no single cause for suicide. We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health. Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance use problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide. That risk is greater when a firearm is also present in the home or accessible. Most people who actively manage their mental health conditions lead fulfilling lives.
So have your buddy’s back. Trust your gut. If you’re worried, it’s okay to have a brave conversation and ask them directly about suicide. We know through research that asking won’t put the idea in their head, or push them to act on it. In most cases, they’ll feel relieved that someone cares enough to bring it up.
So learn the common risk factors and warning signs for suicide, so you know them when you see them. Encourage your friends to store their guns safely and securely, locked and unloaded. During a crisis, help them remove firearms from the home until the period of distress resolves. Help them get the support they need — when they need it.
Do the same for yourself. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you’re going through a tough time and exhibiting some of the warning signs, ask a buddy for help. Ask him to connect you with support and to help store your guns safely until you feel more like yourself again.
Remember: those who don’t have immediate access to a means of killing themselves don’t simply find another way. Most live through it and regain their usual ways of coping. Removing access to firearms and all other lethal means and providing support helps get people past the intense, temporary moment of suicidal crisis…and can save a life.▲ Back to Top
Ways to store your firearms safely
Research shows that the presence of guns in the home increases suicide risk. Because lethal means are such a critical factor when it comes to suicide, the best way to help protect a person at risk is to remove all lethal means, including firearms, from the home during the period of suicide risk. Other ways to secure firearms (locked and unloaded) are also protective but secondary to lethal means removal, to prevent suicide.
As a gun owner, you can choose from multiple options for safely storing and protecting your firearms when they’re not in use: cable locks, lock boxes, gun cases, and full size gun safes.▲ Back to Top
AFSP & NSSF Firearms and Suicide Prevention brochure
Help is available
Suicide affects millions each year, and AFSP is one of many organizations that provide resources for those affected by suicide, whether they are currently experiencing a suicidal crisis, have lost someone to suicide, or are only interested in learning more about this leading cause of death.