Firearm Suicide Prevention
A crisis impacting all Missourians.
Finding hope in moments of despair
Firearms are a uniquely lethal method of suicide. In Missouri, six out of every 10 suicides involve a firearm, with approximately 85% of attempts ending in death. Research shows that a person can think about suicide for an extended period, but the decision to act in a brief and vulnerable moment can happen in less than one hour. Having access to a firearm at this time can determine whether someone lives or dies.
Why it matters:
Suicide is a public health crisis in the U.S., with rates rising more than 30% in 25 states between 1999 and 2016. Rates have increased among both sexes, all racial and ethnic groups, all age groups under 75, and in all geographic settings. In Missouri, suicide rates have grown even faster than the national average.
At 61%, firearms are the leading means of suicide in Missouri by a wide margin. Despite the tragic out-sized role firearms play in a majority of suicides in the region, strategies to address firearm suicide are absent or underdeveloped within statewide and community-based suicide prevention plans.
How we’re changing things:
Through this effort we are working to reduce firearm suicides in targeted populations, promoting effective messaging that shifts the narrative about firearms and suicide, and increasing the focus on this issue within statewide comprehensive suicide prevention work that is in development.
In the spring of 2022, we launched End Family Fire Missouri, a two-year campaign in partnership with the Ad Council and Brady designed to raise awareness of the risks of unsecured firearms in the home in relation to gun suicide. The effort is dedicated to reducing firearm deaths and injuries in the home through enhancing safe storage practices among gun owners. The work is strictly non-partisan in nature and brings firearm owners into the conversation to have them be part of the solution. Visit End Family Fire Missouri to learn more about suicide prevention, safe firearm storage, and to view videos from the campaign.
In 2021 we joined forces to create the Missouri Firearm Suicide Prevention Learning Cohort. Over a 24-month period (February 2021-January 2023), seven planning grantees from across the region are working to develop promising gun-suicide prevention approaches that will focus on reducing firearm suicide rates among specific populations that are at highest risk. Each group is collecting and analyzing community data, listening to families and communities suffering in this crisis, and developing local, sustainable solutions for prevention.
In 2018 we partnered with the University of Missouri – St. Louis to create our state’s version of the Gun Shop Project. In this program, gun shop and shooting range owners are being trained to promote gun safety and suicide prevention. We’ve also partnered with organizations like Frameworks Institute to help make the connection between firearms and suicide clearer to the general public.
Our work to address firearm suicides is closely aligned with our broader firearm violence prevention work.