More than half of suicide deaths involve firearms, CDC says; La Crosse expert says proper gun storage saves lives

La Crosse Area Suicide Prevention Initiative offers free gun locks

——————- Anyone in need of help can call 211 | 1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline ——————

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — More than half of deaths by suicide involve firearms, according to a new CDC report.

 Gun storage is an important part of this public health crisis, and correct gun storage practices can save a life.

“We definitely are not immune to that in this area,” said Amy Kuester, supervisor at Great Rivers 211. “It’s all about awareness.”

Kuester, a member of the La Crosse Suicide Prevention Initiative, said people are dealing with a lot of stress right now.

“Every one of us was struggling with a little bit more isolation,” Kuester said. “A lot of stressful times.”

Homicides involving firearms increased to 79 percent — 35 percent more than 2019.

“The stressors of COVID, both the economic stressors and emotional stressors, certainly put a lot of additional stress on people’s lives and have manifested in increases in particular on gun homicides in this country,” Sarah Burd-Sharps of  Everytown for Gun Safety said in an interview with CBS News.

National experts say communities should focus on gun safety.

“A lot of the studies we have done and that others have done have shown that gun safety laws work,” Burd-Sharps said.

Experts say people should take responsibility and use gun locks. Keep firearms locked and unloaded, and separate firearms and ammunition. Household members should understand the safety guidelines concerning firearms.

Families should keep the conversation direct and open. Kuester said everyone who owns a firearm carries this responsibility.

“I think we know that it’s not just people with the intent to harm themselves,” she said. “It’s also accidents that happen.”

The goal is to keep everyone safe. Free gun locks are available through the La Crosse Suicide Prevention Initiative.

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