Navy: Store guns of sailors at risk for suicide

January 30, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

The Virginian-Pilot

The United States Navy has formally advised its commanders to ask sailors thought to be at risk for suicide to voluntarily hand over their firearms for safekeeping. The new rule is in response to data showing that guns are involved in more than half of Navy suicides overall, but in only 5.4 percent of suicides in areas where sailors have restricted access to guns. “Reducing access to lethal means has been proven to save lives,” said Captain Mike Smith, head of the Navy Suicide Prevention Branch. “Just as a person should be willing to turn over the car keys when not fit to drive, one should be willing to turn over their firearm for safekeeping until he or she feels fit again.” Smith explained that Navy commanders and health care workers should identify sailors at risk and provide as much help as possible “while maintaining sailors’ rights.” In another effort to reduce suicides, the Navy created a task force two years ago whose task is to increase sailors’ resiliency.

Spark Extra: Learn more about military suicide prevention research and initiatives at the Military Suicide Research Consortium.