March 18, 2020 Blog

COVID-19 and Firearm Suicide

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds every American is being asked to avoid groups of more than 10 people and to stay home as much as possible. This is currently the best tool available to combat the spread of the coronavirus and is absolutely vital, but it also threatens to cause a loneliness epidemic and increases the risk of suicide

Risk factors for suicide include stressful life events, social isolation, hopelessness, helplessness, and access to lethal means. Each of these factors will be exacerbated by COVID-19. 

A global pandemic qualifies as a stressful life event. Social distancing will necessarily create social isolation and, inevitably, economic hardship. All of these factors can contribute to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. 

Reports also suggest that Americans are stockpiling firearms and ammunition in response to the coronavirus, which means more people will have access to lethal means. Access to firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide three-fold. And firearms are by far the most lethal suicide method with close to nine out of 10 attempts being fatal.  

Here’s what you can do: 

  • Practice safe storage! Keep all firearms unloaded, locked, separate from ammunition. 
  • Check in on your friends and family. Do your part to combat social isolation by checking in with your loved ones (at a safe distance!). And talk to them about safe storage even if they are not suicidal at the moment. 
  • If you or someone you know is in crisis call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

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