Foundation for Health, others launch suicide- prevention campaign

In part because firearms play an "outsized role" in suicide deaths throughout Missouri, organizations are launching firearm suicide prevention campaigns.

The two-year campaign is a collaboration between the Missouri Foundation for Health, the Ad Council and Brady -- an organization named after Jim and Sarah Brady, whose intent is to unite Americans against gun violence.

The leading cause of gun deaths in Missouri is suicide, according to a foundation news release.

And more than six in 10 suicides in Missouri involve firearms.

"With firearms playing such an outsized role in suicides throughout the state, we want to start a conversation about how we can encourage safer storage and look out for one another in moments of crisis," said Jesse LaRose, foundation senior strategist for initiatives. "The legacy of a single suicide tears through a community, leaving untold damage in its wake. We all have a part to play in preventing suicides, and making firearm safety a part of that effort makes perfect sense."

The "End Family Fire" campaign is dedicated to reducing firearm deaths and injuries in the home through encouraging safe storage practices among gun owners. The work is nonpartisan and brings firearm owners into the conversation to have them be part of the solution.

There are about 4.6 million children living in homes in the United States with access to an unlocked or unsupervised firearm, according to the release. An intent of the campaign is to put a name to the preventable tragedies that occur when these guns are misused. "Family fire," a term developed for the campaign, refers to a shooting involving an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home that results in death or injury.

Incidents may include unintentional shootings, suicides and other gun-related tragedies.

"The campaign aims to bring awareness to the issue of family fire, give gun owners a role in gun violence prevention, and encourage a national dialogue around safe storage practices -- all of which can help prevent further family fire-related tragedies," the release stated.

Experts developed the End Family Fire campaign using broad and deep research, including qualitative and quantitative methodologies at every stage, according to the release. Organizers conducted advisory panels for each round of work. Mental health and gun-violence-prevention experts vetted the campaign.

They tested the campaign using market research, to assure it resonates with gun owners.

"Tracking study results from the campaign unequivocally speak to the success and impact of this effort," the release stated. "Firearm owners who are exposed to the campaign messaging are shifting their attitudes and behavior around safe gun storage."

The campaign is a portion of the foundation's larger "Firearm Suicide Prevention" initiative. The foundation has engaged for several years in research around how firearm owners think about safety, and how to communicate and engage people about the issue most effectively.

The foundation is in the midst of the Missouri Firearm Suicide Prevention Learning Cohort, a two-year effort to develop promising gun-suicide prevention approaches that focus on reducing firearm suicide rates among specific populations at highest risk.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text "HOME" TO 741741.