Prevent Firearm Suicides

Over a ten-year period (2011-2020) in Orange County:

- A total of 3,192 families lost a member to suicide

- Suicides by firearm were the leading method for suicide

- Of 1,407 total firearm deaths, 1,018 were suicides

...meaning 72% of firearm deaths are suicides

Every step we can take to put barriers between someone’s thoughts of suicide and access to means (such as a gun) reduces the risk of a suicide attempt. With firearms being the most lethal and most common means of suicide deaths, it is important to reduce access to firearms for someone that is thinking about ending their life.

Here are some tips to help you keep yourself or a loved one safe:

1. Learn the Risk Factors and Warning Signs for Suicide

The risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • Emotional crisis due to job loss, break-up, legal trouble, loss of loved one, or newly diagnosed illness
  • Major change in behavior: depression, violence, anger/aggression, or alcohol or drug use
  • Recent impulsiveness, risk-taking, acting reckless
  • Expressing a desire to die or end their life
  • Putting affairs in order, giving away prized possessions, or impulsive purchase of a firearm
  • Withdrawing from things they used to enjoy

2. Keep Guns Securely Stored at All Times

A key principle of firearm safety is to keep guns securely stored at all times. This is especially important when someone who is having thoughts of suicide may be able to access them. Keeping firearms in locked gun cases, using gun locks, and storing firearms in a certified gun safe are key steps that can prevent unwanted access to firearms. As an additional safety precaution, consider storing the gun safe key in a separate location outside of the home, such as with friends or family.

3. Have a Conversation about Suicide Prevention.

When you are worried that someone may be having thoughts of suicide, the only way to really know is to have a conversation about suicide. This can be a difficult and often uncomfortable conversation, but it is vital to talk openly and ask directly: “Are you thinking about suicide?” By talking about suicide you are not putting the idea in their head.

4. Consider Additional Safety Precautions Such As Storing a Firearm Outside the Home

Putting time and distance between a suicidal person and a gun can save a life. To keep yourself, your family, or your friends safe when experiencing thoughts of suicide, one of the most effective steps to take is to limit access to firearms or securing firearms safely outside of the home. Family members, shooting clubs, or gun shops may be able to store them until the situation improves.

Gun Safety Tips

For Help Now

If you are feeling suicidal or if you are concerned about someone else, help is available right now. Call the Lifeline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak to a trained counselor.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

(800) 273-8255

By calling, you or the person you are calling about will not be added to a database.

If emergency medical care is needed, or a suicide attempt is imminent, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.