CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – In the debate over guns here’s what you don’t often hear: it’s not homicides but suicides that are by far the leading cause of firearm deaths.
Suicides account for 76 percent of such deaths in Colorado. Of 1,058 people who took their lives last year in Colorado, 527 did so with a gun.
Jarrod Hindman is the director of the state’s suicide prevention office.
“The need to find a way to blend suicide prevention and firearm safety together became really apparent,” he told CBS4.
Hindman decided to engage some unusual allies: gun enthusiasts. He asked them to approach local gun stores with suicide prevention posters and brochures that carry a simple message:
“If someone in your house is suicidal do everything in your power to ensure that they don’t have access to your firearms while they are in crisis,”he said.
Dick Abramson is the owner of Centennial Gun Club. He said he didn’t wait to be approached. He volunteered to help the effort.
“We have a number of physicians that are members here at the club and there was a discussion that we sort of started between us,” Abramson said. “(We thought) ‘Can we do some things to help certain individuals so that guns don’t become a method of suicide.”
The education campaign is already underway in gun shops in several rural counties. Centennial Gun Club is the first place in the Denver metro area to express interest.
“There has been a controversy built around guns. It really isn’t the guns, it’s the people with the guns in their hands,” Abramson said.
The effort is also meant to educate employees. Abramson says he’s had instances where’s he has refused to sell guns to people he believed to be unstable.
“We’ve had a couple instances where people have come back to us and say ‘You know, I was really troubled, thank you for not selling me a gun on that day,'” Abramson said.
Two years ago a bill in the Colorado legislature that was aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill failed.