September 29, 2021
The Firearm Industry’s Role in Suicide Prevention Panel Discussion
At this year’s NSSF® Range-Retailer Business ExpoTM, Rachel Kopczyk met with Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO, Dr. Christine Moutier, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Mathew Miller, National Director of Suicide Prevention for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). They discussed NSSF’s groundbreaking partnerships with AFSP and VA, and how businesses in our industry can help in the fight against suicide.
The firearm industry has been supporting the secure storage of firearms for many years, with our two-decades-old Project ChildSafe® program promoting secure storage and safe handling of firearms when not in use in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. These partnerships with national leaders in suicide prevention are a natural outgrowth of NSSF’s gun-safety efforts and draw attention to securing methods of self-harm.
NSSF is fortunate to have partnered with AFSP and the VA to help educate the firearm industry on the important points “that suicide is preventable” and that “having a brave conversation” with a person who is struggling can help save a life. NSSF and its member companies care deeply about this topic, and we are working to share education to help recognize behavior that can indicate someone is at risk. “We all have a role to play when it comes to preventing suicide,” said Dr. Moutier.
By working with AFSP and VA, NSSF is systematically disseminating suicide prevention education materials to thousands of firearms retailers, shooting ranges and gun owners nationwide. The messenger matters, and as a trusted messenger among gun owners NSSF helps open doors and open minds to deliver this important education. As Dr. Miller emphasized, “We’re here to talk about lethal means safety, we’re not here to talk about lethal means restriction.”
NSSF and AFSP have developed a Suicide Prevention Toolkit to help firearm retailers, shooting range operators and customers understand risk factors and warning signs related to suicide, know where to find help and encourage the use of secure storage devices. NSSF asks all firearm retailers and shooting ranges to participate in this program because doing so can help save lives.
NSSF also has partnered with the VA on a Safe Firearm Storage Toolkit. The toolkit guides communities through the process of building coalitions to raise awareness about securely storing firearms when not in use. Secure storage can put time and space between an individual with suicidal thoughts and a firearm, providing a vital pause that can save a life. The VA’s new website, KeepItSecure.net, and new video PSAs are valuable resources in the fight against veteran suicide.