AFSP’s Position on Firearms and Suicide Prevention

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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is dedicated to preventing loss of life from suicide, including those using a firearm. And we have set a bold goal to reduce the annual suicide rate in the U.S. by 20 percent by 2025. Educating the firearms-owning community about suicide prevention, safe storage and removing access to lethal means, including a firearm, when someone is at risk, is a major part of our Project 2025.

To accomplish this goal, in 2016 the AFSP Board of Directors decided that the organization needed to reach out to and work with the firearms owning community. This includes firearms retailers, shooting ranges, gun clubs, instructors, etc.  This approach was first developed by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Means Matter Campaign and has been piloted by a few other groups in several states. Because of its promise in reducing suicides with a firearm, AFSP is working to take this approach nationwide.

This is why AFSP made a decision to partner with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the leading trade association for the firearms industry, in order to reach NSSF’s members with AFSP’s suicide prevention information. The collaboration is purely an effort to provide educational resources for firearms retailers, shooting range owners and the firearms-owning community about suicide prevention.

AFSP receives no funding from NSSF, firearms manufacturers or any gun lobbying organizations, nor is AFSP providing any funds to NSSF or similar groups. Further, we are not advocating in any way for the gun lobby. Likewise, we are not funded by, or providing funds to, any gun control organizations, nor are we advocating in any way for gun control organizations.

Lastly, there is no connection between AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Walks and its collaboration with NSSF. AFSP’s educational materials on firearms and suicide prevention, which are co-branded with AFSP and NSSF’s logos, are available at our walks because they promote evidenced-based prevention practices like safe storage or temporarily removing a firearm from the home when someone is at risk. And while we welcome everyone at our walks, having any advocacy organization’s materials at the events could be confusing. This applies across many issues, including pro-gun or gun control advocacy.

Our goal is clear – reduce the number of suicides using a firearm, and we believe the best way to accomplish this is to engage the firearms owning community in suicide prevention. Based on our Project 2025 analysis, this approach could save more than 9,000 lives by 2025 if implemented nationwide.