Suicide is preventable; nine out of ten people who unsuccessfully attempt suicide will not go on to kill themselves. In taking efforts to prevent gun access to those at risk of suicide, Texas can save lives.
Firearms play a significant role in suicides in Texas. 55% of gun deaths are suicides, and suicides are completed with a firearm 58% of the time. Our veterans are a particularly vulnerable group, using firearms to complete suicide 75% of the time.
Sadly, suicide is on the rise in other groups as well. Black American youth experienced a significant increase in suicide attempts from 1991-2017, despite a decrease in other ethnic groups. 2020 was the first year in which Texas youth used a firearm to complete suicide more than 50% of the time.
Unfortunately, suicides often coincide with homicide. Texas is consistently one of the top three states for homicide-suicide incidents with an average of one homicide-suicide incident per week since 2014.
Education about safe gun storage practices can prevent unintentional shootings, suicides, and unauthorized access to firearms. That’s why Texas Gun Sense supports the expansion of and investment in the Keep ‘Em Safe Texas public safety awareness campaign on safe firearm storage practices. We’d also like to see the Department of Public Safety take additional steps to ensure the safety of Texas residents, such as the creation of a firearm safety and suicide prevention public awareness campaign, along with the inclusion of safe storage information and suicide lifeline on their websites (especially pages pertaining to veterans and teens), and sharing safe storage information with parents of Texas school children.
Texas should also provide access to voluntary gun storage options to provide a safe and secure place for individuals to voluntarily store their firearms during a crisis. This is why Texas Gun Sense works with doctors, veterans, and gun dealers to expand voluntary storage options throughout the state.
Information is important, but we also know that our Legislature has a role to play in this critical issue. We recommend instituting background checks for all gun purchases to prevent sales to those with dangerous histories and others at high risk of harming themselves.
Texas should also provide judges with the ability to issue Extreme Risk Protection Orders when families or law enforcement provide clear and convincing evidence that an individual poses a risk of imminent harm to self or others. The temporary orders would prohibit high-risk individuals from possessing guns until their state of crisis passes.
Bills Filed in the 88th Legislative Session that Texas Gun Sense Supports:
HB 3534: Provide firearm suicide prevention information to firerams license holders
The majority of gun deaths in Texas and nationwide are due to suicide. We can keep our veterans, youth, and other vulnerable communities safe through investing in firearm suicide awareness and providing resources for those in crisis.