August is National Shooting Sports Month.
Juneau shooting enthusiasts can be seen with friends and family at the Juneau Mercantile & Armory and at the outdoor range. The National Shooting Sport Foundation (NSSF), in collaboration with the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition (JSPC) and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, would like to take this time to encourage others to help reduce firearm accidents and suicides with safe storage of your firearms.
In celebration of National Shooting Sports Month, we are providing free gun locks and means reduction brochures to Juneau residents.
What is means reduction? It is reducing a person’s access to a lethal means — alcohol, medication and firearms — during a mental health crisis. JSPC is sharing means reduction information with the community and working with NSSF to disseminate suicide prevention education to gun retail stores, shooting ranges and gun owners. We are also offering a training with a focus on risk factors and warning signs of suicide and means reduction actions that must be taken during a crisis: temporary storage of firearms during period of risk, safe storage — locked and unloaded — at all times; and possibly denying a sale when appropriate. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for your free gun lock or call 523-6506.
Most Alaskans are or have been affected by suicide and therefore, we all need to work together to reduce the loss of lives. Research shows that most suicide attempts occur with little planning and in a short-term crisis. If we can remove the means: Alcohol, medication and firearms, we can reduce the likelihood of a death by suicide and other accidental shootings. Statistics also show that 90 percent of those who attempt suicide and survive, do not go on to die by suicide later. Means reduction saves lives. JSPC believes that together we can create a community where others feel a sense of belonging, conceitedness and safety. Suicide is preventable and early recognition of the warning signs is critical.
If you want more information on our Means Reduction program or if you would like to attend a Means Reduction meeting to share your thoughts with JSPC, please call 523-6506 for further information. We recognize that firearm access can be a politically charged topic so we welcome both gun owners and non-gun owners to visit www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter for more information.
If you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide and/or needing to speak to someone, please call the Alaska Careline at 877-266-4357 or text 741741 immediately. JSPC wants to remind everyone that you are not alone and there is hope.
• Jan Reece is the Suicide Prevention and Outreach Specialist for Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition.