Firearms and Suicide Prevention

Guns and suicide are important topics for firearm owners. As gun owners, its critically important to learn and understand the risk factors and warning signs related to suicide, to practice secure firearm storage and to know where to find help.

Project ChildSafe is proud to partner with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to deliver educational resources to gun owners, including information on the warning signs and risk factors of suicide and ways to help individuals who may be in crisis.

By The Numbers

of Americans have been touched by suicide, either directly or indirectly
Source: AFSP
of firearm deaths are by suicide
Source: CDC
1 in 3
American high school girls has recently considered suicide
Source: CDC

The good news is that suicide is preventable, and securing firearms is one of the most important steps gun owners can take to protect those at risk.

Secure Storage: Creating Time and Distance

One main premise of preventing suicide deaths is the concept of time and distance. If a person is in crisis, they are more likely to make impulsive decisions. If they can’t access a means to end their life, such as a firearm, there’s time for the crisis to pass. This is why it’s so important for gun owners to practice secure storage. For a person in crisis, locked firearms and locked ammunition can mean the difference between a life saved, or a tragedy.

As a gun owner, you can choose from multiple options for safely storing and protecting your firearms when they’re not in use, including cable locks, lock boxes, gun cases or full size gun safes. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to gun storage; every gun owner is unique and should explore the best gun storage solutions for their lifestyle.

Learn how to store your firearms responsibly, and find the best secure storage option/s for your household:

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Teen’s Suicide Prevention Story

Hear the real-life story of a teenager who took all the right steps, including using a Project ChildSafe gun lock, to prevent his girlfriend from attempting suicide.

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Knowing the warning signs of suicide and limiting access to lethal means, including firearms, for at-risk teens can help save lives. Project ChildSafe has resources designed specifically for teens to help them identify suicide risk factors, take steps to start a conversation and get support from trusted adults who can help.

Explore our resources for teens.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.

For additional resources, click here.

Being there for your friends: a guide to helping prevent suicide

Just as we all have physical health, which can vary from day-to-day, we also have mental health, and it’s just as important. When you think someone might be going through more than just a hard time, know that you may be able to help by just reaching out to talk and encouraging help-seeking resources. Below are suggestions on what to watch for.

Download guide here

Warning Signs To Watch

Suicide is complex and does not happen based on a single event. Suicide usually occurs after several issues (health problems, stress, anxiety over life events, family or relationship problems or any number of other “stressors”) converge on someone and leave them with feelings of hopelessness or despair.

To help support your friends, watch for the following warnings signs and behaviors:

Talks about killing themselves, feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
Expresses being a burden to others, feeling trapped or experiencing unbearable pain.
Appears depressed, anxious, disinterested, irritable, humiliated or agitated, or suddenly appears to have rapidly improved after previously displaying those moods.

Increases use of alcohol or drugs.
Withdraws from activities and isolates from friends and family.
Reduces effort at school, stops trying academically or increases absences.
Exhibits changes in sleeping or eating patterns; is always fatigued or not sleeping.
Conducts internet searches for materials/ways for self-harm.
Says goodbye to family or friends; gives possessions away.
Displays aggressive behaviors.
Makes unusual or cryptic social media posts related to the above (being a burden, saying goodbye, etc.).

What You Can Do

It starts with simply talking and listening. If your friend seems to be more down than usual, is exhibiting a change in behavior or you just feel like something isn’t right, don’t wait—talk to him or her. Have the brave conversation. Also understand that what’s troubling them isn’t something you can—or need to—solve on your own. If you think a friend needs help, identify a trusted adult and let them know what is happening and that help is needed. You can also share resources with your friend, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the Crisis Text Line, in addition to reaching out to an adult for help.

Don’t wait — trust your gut. Starting a conversation will be hard, but it’s the right thing to do. Asking your friend directly if he or she is considering suicide will not make them more likely to attempt suicide.

Be ready to listen. It’s the best thing you can do when someone is struggling.

Let your friend share at his or her own pace, and let them know that help is available. Talk with them about who else (a trusted adult, such as a school counselor, parent, teacher, or coach) might help and offer to support them in talking to a helpful adult. Reassure them that help is available, listen to their concerns and let them know that others care and can help.

Tell your friend about the Crisis Text Line, where he or she can text TALK to 741741 to get help.

Continue to invite your friend to chat or to join in on social activities.

Most importantly, find a trusted adult to help support both of you. It doesn’t need to be a parent; it can be a teacher, coach or counselor—anyone you trust who can also help your friend. When someone is struggling, telling an adult is not the same as gossiping or breaking your friend’s trust. Telling an adult will help to ensure that your friend gets the help he or she needs.

Even if your friend has not shared any plans to harm themselves or others, but you still see the warning signs, you should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible to make sure they are aware and can assist.

Additional Resources

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s More than Sad resource for parents, high school students and teachers

Seize the Awkward peer-to-peer resources for teens and young adults

Visit for bullying- and cyberbullying-specific resources