GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- A recent study from the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence found that in 2018, 77 percent of all firearm deaths in Colorado were suicides. The study also found in that same year, Colorado had the 11th highest firearm suicide rate out of any state in the country.
Michelle Hoy is the executive vice president of Mind Springs Health in Grand Junction. She says understanding the risk of firearms in relation to mental health is an important part of case worker training.
“Restricting access to lethal means is absolutely one of the most important ways to curb the suicide curve with guns,” Hoy said.
Hoy added preventing these tragedies is all about having honest conversations with those who might need help, but also putting firearms in secured places.
“660 people lost their lives in Colorado from firearm suicide in 2018,” said Josh Horowitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence in Washington. “You can do the math, but it’s almost two a day.”
Horwitz also says Colorado’s new red flag law could help reduce this disturbing trend.
“Law enforcement or family members, when they see someone they care about who’s at risk from harm to self or others, they can get in court to intervene and temporarily remove a firearm.”
Michelle Hoy says mental health professionals and gun shops have a good relationship about generating a meaningful conversation about mental health and gun safety.
“There are absolutely partner guns shops who have signs and posters and resources available about suicide,” Hoy said. “Some gun shops have a locker where you can keep your gun locked up and away from the home but still have access when you need it.”
In a previous story from Fall 2019, KREX 5 explores gun storage in Colorado.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has a suicide prevention support line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255).