Gun Suicide Is At An All-Time High — Here’s One Way That Could Change

Guns remain the leading cause of death for young adults younger than 25.

by The Editors
Originally Published: 
Proper storage is an important step toward gun safety.
Mats Silvan/Moment/Getty Images

When it comes to preventing suicide, gun safety at home can make a real difference. In 2021, deaths by firearm accounted for 55% of all suicides in the United States, per the Kaiser Family Foundation, and every day in America an average of 65 people die by gun suicide, per Everytown. On top of that, 65% of gun owners in the United States have at least one unlocked firearm, per the American College of Physicians, which can give anyone in that household access to them, sometimes with fatal results. To raise awareness about how to safely store guns at home, the anti-gun-violence organization Brady and the Ad Council are educating people with a new campaign as part of its End Family Fire program.

For the past five years, End Family Fire has worked to change attitudes toward gun usage and safe storage. (The phrase “family fire” refers to a shooting that was possible because someone else in the home had access to a gun when they shouldn’t have.) The organization emphasizes the importance of storing firearms locked, unloaded, separate from ammunition, and away from children.

Ad Council, Brady, and Dentsu's recent campaign, Safe Stories, went live on July 11 and features personal anecdotes from seven people about their own mental health struggles or those of people close to them, and how having a safe and secure way to store their firearms helped them avoid making an irreversible decision.

“We can’t legislate our way out of America’s gun violence epidemic. As with PSA campaigns and public education efforts on seatbelts and smoking, we must model safer norms and behavior around firearms and their safekeeping,” Kris Brown, president of Brady, said in a news release. “Data shows that End Family Fire is resonating with gun owners, and the result is countless lives saved.”

An Ad Council study found that 74% of respondents who are aware of End Family Fire’s PSAs agree that storing their guns unloaded and locked away reduces the risk of suicide by firearm in their homes. Still, gun suicide rates are at a record high, and guns remain the leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1 to 19 and young adults younger than 25.

According to End Family Fire, gun safety at home has a few different steps. If you have a firearm, store it in a safe or lockbox; you can get gun storage devices online or at gun or sporting stores. A wide range of gun safety options are out there, including trigger or cable locks to prevent the gun from firing. Put all ammunition in a separate place, and don’t keep one gun loaded “just in case.” Keeping it out of sight isn’t enough. End Family Fire also recommends having conversations with friends about if there are guns in their homes and how they are stored.

Have any questions? Sign up for a gun safety course in your area.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or to your local suicide crisis center.

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