Firearm Suicide Prevention

A crisis impacting all Missourians.

Finding hope in moments of despair

suicide

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 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.

In 2021 we launched 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.

Our work to address firearm suicides is closely aligned with our broader firearm violence prevention work.