Reduce Access Reduce Suicides

Think about this: it just takes 5-10 minutes from contemplating to the actual attempt of suicide. But, when firearms are not readily accessible, it is unlikely that an alternative method will be considered.

Easy access to firearms significantly increases chances of unpremeditated death by suicide. Firearm use resulted in 59.6% of suicide in Active, 66.2% in Reserve, and 78.7% in the National Guard according to the Department of Defense Annual Suicide Report, Calendar Year 2019. Safely storing firearms and minimizing substances that heighten impulsiveness (such as alcohol) can drastically change a suicide outcome. Studies in other countries have shown limited access to firearms has decreased suicide rates by 30-50%1 . Storing firearms and ammunition safely reduces the risk of suicide by 55% to 73%2 .

Here are some things we can do:
our loved one may feel alone or view themselves as a burden on you and the others who love them. One of the best ways to support them is by being present. Spending time with your loved one in-person is best, but there are many other ways to connect including video chat, phone, text, and social media.

Soldiers: Use gun locks, store firearms unloaded in a safe, and store ammunition in a separate locked storage container.

Family Members: Research ways to safely store firearms by contacting Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention personnel.

Leaders:

  • Normalize safely storing firearms by routinely communicating best practices and giving examples on how to reduce access especially for persons at risk.
  • Coordinate with Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention personnel to provide education on safe storage of firearms.
  • Understand that your inhibitions lowered due to alcohol and/or substance abuse can lead to risk of death by suicide. Coordinate with Behavioral Health personnel, Army Substance Abuse Program, and sources such as Own Your Limits to educate Soldiers during safety briefings on responsible drinking.
  • Know the policies surrounding Privately Owned Firearms such as ALARACT 057/2020 Privately Owned Firearms and Behavioral Health. Consulting with Behavioral Health personnel along with understanding behavioral health policy AAR 600-63 Army Health Promotion can help with identifying/reducing risks and coordinate care requirements.

Military Community:Use available websites and resources such as The Veterans Administration’s Safe Firearms Storage toolkit to obtain information and help prevention.

Let’s put on our safety first. Together, we can keep our Army Family safe.

Additional Resources:

1 Reducing a Suicidal Person's Access to Lethal Means of Suicide
2 Reducing Suicides by Firearms