The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s top trade group, is partnering for the first time with the country’s leading suicide prevention organization in hopes of averting nearly 10,000 deaths over the next decade, reports The Trace. The program, initiated by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, will strive to educate people on the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and provide guidance on how best to talk to someone who may be considering trying to end his or her own life, says Robert Gebbia, the chief executive of AFSP. The program will also recommend blocking family members who are suicidal from accessing firearms by emphasizing the importance of securely locking guns away.
Gun groups have traditionally been reluctant to acknowledge that the presence of a firearm poses an increased risk to people who are considering taking their own lives. Gebbia says buy-in from the NSSF is especially important in persuading people that blocking gun access in certain situations is about saving lives, not depriving people of their rights. It is not clear whether the AFSP guidance will include specific suggestions about how to remove weapons from potentially suicidal people. The NSSF, which represents thousands of gun dealers and manufacturers, provided input into the program and is also promoting it. More than half of all suicides in the U.S. are carried out with a firearm.