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Limiting access to firearms can delay suicidal action and save lives

If you have a firearm in your home or on your property, consider ways to delay access to it.

According to the most recent data, half of all Kansas households own at least one firearm. Perhaps not coincidentally, half of all suicides in Kansas also occur by firearm. While it is estimated that 80% of people who are considering taking their own lives will talk about their feelings with a trusted friend or family member, many people are not aware that from the moment the decision is made to the moment that they take action to end their life is normally less than five minutes. Anything that can be done to delay suicidal action is vital to saving a life, and that includes limiting access to lethal means.

If you have a firearm in your home or on your property, consider ways to delay access to it. Ask your spouse to change the combination on a gun safe, or to have an alternative location to storing ammunition. Consider speaking with a friend or neighbor about having them hold the firearm for you temporarily while you get help, and offer to do the same for them. Or, if you are not comfortable giving up the weapon even for a few days, ask them to hold the shells for you instead. None of these plans are perfect, but adding any amount of time to the decision window surrounding such a drastic action increases the likelihood of a different outcome.

Those precious hours, minutes, even seconds, all hold the potential to change the direction of a world-altering moment. Please consider making such a plan today. And let’s all hope that you never need to use it.

Links to mental health resources are at MHANational.org.

Eric Litwiller has served the south central Kansas community through his work at Mental Health Association since September of 2017. As Director of Development and Communications, he is charged with seeking the private investment required to raise awareness of the scope of mental health concerns throughout the region in an effort to eliminate the unfair stigma associated with mental illness.