FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 11, 2021
Adam Peck, West End Strategy Team
Gun Violence Prevention Experts Recognize Veterans Day by Calling for Lethal Means Safety Training
EFSGV: Each year in the United States, more than 6,000 veterans die by suicide
If you are having thoughts of suicide, you don’t have to go through this alone – please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting 741-741.
WASHINGTON — In recognition of Veterans Day, Vicka Chaplin, the Director of Research Translation at the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, issued the following statement:
“Every Veterans Day, Americans reflect on the immeasurable sacrifice and bravery that our armed service members have shown in defense of the United States, its people and its ideals. Yet the reverence with which we profess to hold for our veterans is betrayed by our failure to address the distressing rate of suicide among veterans, those currently serving and their family members.
“Each year in the United States, more than 6,000 veterans die by suicide, and more than two thirds of these suicides come by way of a firearm. Our youngest veterans — between the ages of 18 and 34 — have the highest rates of suicide. Among those currently in active service, on reserve duty or in the National Guard, more than one person dies by suicide with a firearm every single day, and family members remain at heightened risk for firearm suicide as well. All of these exceed the proportion of suicides by firearm among the civilian population and point to the same conclusion: access to a firearm is a key risk factor for suicide among these populations.
“As a military spouse, I know that firearms are a prominent part of military culture – as is firearm safety – and that their lethal contribution to suicide among veterans, military service members and their families should not be brushed aside in suicide prevention discussions.
“Congress should pass Representative Lauren Underwood’s Lethal Means Safety Training Act (H.R. 2749), which would update and expand training for VA employees and care providers on lethal means safety counseling, an effective intervention designed to assess whether a patient at risk for suicide has access to firearms or other lethal means, and then work in partnership with them and their family to reduce their access to those items while the risk of suicide is elevated.
“To truly honor our veterans, we must confront the epidemic of veteran suicide. We need action from our elected officials, and we need policies and programs pertaining to reducing access to lethal means during high-risk periods — especially firearms — to be a part of any comprehensive suicide prevention strategy. Our veterans deserve nothing less.”
The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence issued a report in 2019 highlighting the epidemic of veteran and military service member suicide by firearm and recommends the solutions needed to reduce these deaths. It advocates for a comprehensive, evidence-based suicide prevention strategy that includes policies and programs about reducing access to lethal means, such as guns.
About the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV) develops and advocates for evidence-based solutions to reduce gun injury and death in all its forms. EFSGV uses a public health and equity lens to identify and implement evidence-based policy solutions and programs to reduce gun violence in all its forms and to make gun violence rare and abnormal. EFSGV is the gun violence prevention movement’s premier research intermediary and founder of the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, a group of academics and practitioners who collaborate to develop innovative recommendations for policymakers.