Gun Violence Awareness

  • Stop Gun ViolenceThere are an estimated 265 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, and more than one-third of homes contain at least one gun. Gun owners can make our homes and communities safer by storing their firearms unloaded and locked, with ammunition kept in a separate place, to prevent access by children and other people who are at risk of harming themselves or others. Research shows that these storage practices can play a vital role in reducing the risk of gun violence, particularly among children, due to unintentional shootings and gun suicides.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concludes that the absence of guns from homes is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent suicide, homicide, and unintentional firearm-related injuries to children and adolescents. But if there are guns in the home, AAP notes that storing guns unloaded and locked, with ammunition kept in a separate place, can mitigate the risk of child firearm injury.

Preventing Child Firearm Suicide

  • Gun violence has a devastating impact on children in America. Forty percent of child gun deaths are suicides—nearly 700 child gun suicides each year. Over 80 percent of children under the age of 18 who have died by gun suicide used a gun belonging to a parent or relative. For people of all ages, access to a gun increases the risk of death by suicide by three times.

    Most people who attempt suicide do not die—unless they use a gun. In fact, 90 percent of suicide attempts with a gun result in death—a much higher fatality rate than any other means of self-harm. This contributes to the fact that 40 percent of child suicides involve a gun.

    A national survey of high school students found that 17 percent had seriously considered attempting suicide within the last year.

    The risk of gun violence and self-harm has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic, with kids experiencing increased levels of stress and isolation, and more guns being purchased. These factors make it even more important that firearms are stored securely.

Look for the Signs

  • Signs to look out for when concerned that a loved one may be suicidal:

    • Prolonged sadness and depression
    • Changes in mood or behavior
    • Hopelessness
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Withdrawing/Isolation
    • Aggression or agitation
    • Increased alcohol or drug use
    • Talking about killing themselves
  • Some additional key steps you can take to support your loved one include inviting an honest conversation, listening and supporting your loved one, and encouraging them to see a mental health professional or a primary care physician.