Firearms suicide prevention campaign launching in Missouri

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 8:43 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/ Edited News Release) - The Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) launched the End Family Fire Missouri campaign, a two-year-long campaign to raise awareness of the risks of unsecured firearms in the home concerning gun suicide.

Though many people immediately think about homicides or mass shootings when the topic of firearm violence is raised, the leading cause of gun deaths in Missouri and nationwide is suicide.

Senior strategist Jessi LaRose says it’s to raise awareness of the risk of unsecured guns in the home.

“By storing guns in our homes securely and safely, we can really limit or reduce the risk of a fatal suicide attempt,” LaRose says.

The firearm suicide rate in Missouri jumped by nearly 50% from 2000 to 2020.

LaRose says firearm suicides are responsible for nearly 60% of all gun deaths in the state.

If there is a gun in the house, she says locking it in a safe can significantly impact it.

“Putting some time and distance between the firearm and someone who might be in crisis can really make a world of difference and could prevent that attempt or that death,” LaRose says.

More than six out of ten suicides in Missouri involve a firearm.

Amanda Gravenstein’s sister was one of them, and she says nearly six months have gone by since, and her family lives with the pain every day.

”It’s like having broken ribs,” Gravenstein says. “Nobody can see them, but with every breath you take, it is so painful. That is how my family is feeling.”

Gravenstein says her nephew has been suffering.

“He tried to perform CPR on her,” Gravenstein says. “Listening to him recall the details of that, that was pretty hard.”

For Gravenstein, she believes her sister would have died by suicide regardless of access to a gun or not.

Instead, Gravenstein says she’s focusing on the changes that need to be made within the state to address the overall mental health crisis.

“There is such a high rate of suicide and mental health issues, mental illness,” Gravenstein says. “That’s more concerning to me and the lack of help. People just don’t know where to go.”

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

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