“We Don’t Want to Be First Place.” Wyoming Tries to Address High Gun Suicide Rates

March 15, 2024

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
Speaker:  Wyoming


Wyoming is taking a comprehensive approach to addressing high suicide rates. Strategies include a locally staffed 988 crisis line, suicide prevention events with the governor, and expanded mental health care for communities in need. With especially high gun suicide rates, the state is also taking steps to reduce access to guns among those at risk. Gun laws tend to be unpopular in Wyoming, so public health experts and firearms professionals are teaming up on other prevention strategies, such as safe storage. Mental health clinics are giving out free gun locks, and some gun shops are offering temporary firearms storage for people in crisis. Some clinicians are counseling patients on how to put time and space between them and their firearm, and increasing numbers of gun shop owners are trained in how to identify and assist a person at risk. Collaboration between the suicide prevention and gun communities is key, according to Lauren SinClair, a suicide prevention coordinator with the Department of Veterans Affairs. “They can coexist together: mental health professionals talking about firearms, firearms professionals talking about mental health,” she said.

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