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News and Views Forefront Insight Blog Personal & professional perspectives on news and policy related to mental health and suicide prevention

Give viewers accurate information on suicide and guns

Posted on 
01/12/2016

Dear PBS,

Forefront Advisory Board member Peggy West received a warm greeting from Governor Jay Inslee at last week’s press conference to announce plans to reduce gun deaths in Washington. (Photo courtesty of Genna Martin, Seattlepi.comDavid Brooks’ [Jan. 8, 2016, NewsHour] comments on the potential impact of gun violence legislation were misleading and dismissive about suicide gun deaths. His comment that "the only difference that gun legislation might make was related to suicides" was dismissive and misleading. Reducing suicides is a significant undertaking, and guns are the method of 50 percent of the 40,000 suicides in the United States each year.

Sixty-five percent of gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides. If gun legislation could reduce the number of these tragic deaths, it would be highly significant! In Washington state, 80 percent of gun deaths are suicides. Jay Inslee, Washington State Governor released an Executive Order on Jan. 6, 2016 to reduce gun deaths and included reducing suicide deaths as a significant focus of the proposed efforts.  

Please share this information with David Brooks and more accurately inform your audience about the significance of guns in suicide deaths.

Sincerely,

Peggy West PhD MSW

Suicide Prevention Advocate and Consultant

Editor’s note: Insight Blog shares this email with Peggy’s permission, both to correct public misunderstanding about firearms and suicide, and to show how we all have a role in can helping change the media conversation.

Posted by 
Margaret West's picture
Peggy West
Forefront Advisory Board Member
Peggy has more than 40 years of experience working in and with behavioral health, primary health care and public health agencies, most recently as a senior adviser for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. She provides leadership to the development of state suicide prevention efforts in western states, including Washington's Statewide Suicide Prevention Plan.