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OR – GUN SAFETY – Gun owners and mental health professionals aligning on suicide prevention

Suicides rates are rising, and the role of guns is stark, unavoidable and contentious. So it may be remarkable that some health professionals have taken the unusual step of partnering with gun owners in firearm-friendly strategies for saving lives. In Central Oregon, researchers worked with a family doctor and rural firearm owners to develop a suicide prevention message that respects the cultural values and rights of gun owners. The resulting brochure they developed and tested evokes national patriotism, with a bald eagle against a U.S. Constitution and flag. “We believe firearms are an American way of life — a constitutional right and a necessity in order to protect ourselves and our families,” says the text. “And with this RIGHT to bear arms comes RESPONSIBILITY.” The Oregon pamphlet lists warning signs of suicide and offers advice for friends and family to take action to protect their loved ones who are going through a “rough patch.” The language, attitudes and action steps mimic the informal customs among gun owners, the researchers learned. “One of the things we discovered was that firearm owners were having conversations about suicide prevention,” said Elizabeth Marino, an anthropologist at Oregon State University-Cascades, who designed the studies. “All this time, this work was going on outside of the knowledge and collaboration with public health.”  [full article]

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