Physicians Hall Front

Expert Panel to Discuss Veteran Suicide Prevention Initiative During Suicide Prevention Month

Milwaukee, Aug. 18, 2021 – As part of Suicide Awareness Month, acknowledged in September, the Captain John D. Mason Veteran Peer Outreach Program will present a panel discussion promoting a statewide veteran suicide prevention endeavor. The event, “Live Today–Put it Away!” brings together experts to discuss and share resources about the Gun Shop Project and Safe Storage Program, which works with Wisconsin gun shops and ranges to provide support to the gun-owner community that address firearm suicides. The event is at noon on Sept. 1, 2021, hosted by the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Department of Veterans Affairs, in conjunction with the Southeastern Wisconsin Task Force on Veteran Suicide Prevention.

Three panelists, including firearm retailers, will share their experiences and reflect on the importance of the program within the community and other firearm retailers. The joint organizations have been working since early this year to bring the program to communities across the state. Research has shown that 70 percent of veteran and 50 percent of non-veteran suicides are by use of a firearm.

The panel discussion is designed to assist gun shops and ranges to provide two levels of support to the gun-owner community that address firearm suicides:

  1. Firearm safety: Gun shops will provide materials to customers and staff about suicide prevention and responsible firearm ownership developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), American Foundation on Suicide Prevention, and the VA.
  2. Firearm storage outside of the home: The gun shops will provide temporary safe storage of a firearm for a low fee. This service will assist individuals that are in a crisis to voluntarily store their firearm outside of the home.

According to the Southeastern Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Taskforce and BeThereWis.com:

  • About half of suicides occur by people who have not been diagnosed with a mental illness.
  • Many people that die by suicide are noted to be going through a divorce, job loss, a missed promotion, or the feeling of hopelessness in a dire moment.
  • Suicidal feelings can be intense and distressing, but temporary.
  • The ability to offer time and distance between a person and lethal means (like a firearm) by offering safe storage can save a life.

Interested gun shops and ranges can sign up to be listed as a member of the “Coalition of Veteran-friendly Gun Shops” on the Gun Shop Project and Safe Storage map at BeThereWis.com. Once signed up, members will receive materials to assist in providing the services listed above.

For more information and to register for the panel, visit the Live Today–Put it Away! event site, go to the Capt. Mason Facebook Event Page, or contact Susan Smykal at (414)  955-8914 or via email at ssmykal@mcw.edu.

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