Reducing gun suicides in New Hampshire

Although mass shootings like those at high schools in Santa Fe, Texas and Parkland, Florida have dominated the headlines, most gun-related deaths in the U.S. are actually suicides. In New Hampshire, an unlikely team of gun owners and public health experts called the Gun Shop Project has been working to curb such deaths for nearly 10 years.

Their latest idea is to have New Hampshire firearms instructors show a video about suicide prevention in their classes. The video is aimed at educating people about the signs of suicide, and to encourage them to hold on to a friend’s or family member’s gun if they think that person is having a hard time.

Previously, the Gun Shop Project organized an effort to teach gun shop employees about signs of suicide and to encourage them not to sell firearms to someone they thought was struggling.

“The wonderful thing I’ve noticed from working with gun rights guys is a lot of them really think outside the mental health treatment box,” said Catherine Barber, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center’s Means Matter project and a member of the Gun Shop Project, in a May 23, 2018 New Hampshire Public Radio article. “They know some of them and their friends are not going to go to a therapist so it’s: Okay, what else do we have in the toolkit to keep somebody alive?”

Read the New Hampshire Public Radio article: Amid Debate Over Gun Policy, An Unlikely Team Finds Some Consensus in N.H.

Learn more

Gun owner groups, health professionals team up to prevent suicides (Harvard Chan School feature)

Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll (Harvard Public Health magazine)