Firearms are the most common method of death by suicide — accounting for half of all suicide deaths.
In an effort to reduce access to lethal suicide methods and to protect children in the home, Johnson County Mental Health Center now offers free gun locks for residents available across the county. This initiative is a strategy of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition, a group that has provided more than 500 gun locks in the past two months in partnership with local law enforcement and Project ChildSafe.
“Research tells us that reducing the availability of highly lethal and commonly used suicide methods has been associated with declines in suicide rates as much as 30 to 50 percent in other countries,” said Tim DeWeese, director of the mental health center. “Impeding access to highly lethal means of suicide such as guns through the use of gun locks saves lives.”
Project ChildSafe is a national program that promotes firearm safety and education distributing free, cable-style gun locks so gun owners can securely store their firearms.
The program’s goal is to help reduce firearm accidents and misuse by creating a culture of firearm safety through continuous reinforcement of the importance of storing firearms responsibly when not in use.
“Good gun safety is simply keeping your handguns and ammunition stored in a way that protects everyone,” said Shawn Reynolds, deputy chief of police, Olathe Police Department. “Means restriction is a scientifically researched process whereby you slow down the process for someone who is contemplating suicide. The Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition supports gun safety and means restriction as methods of suicide prevention and keeping children safe.”
Residents may pick up free gun locks at the Mental Health Center’s three main locations — 6000 Lamar Ave. in Mission, 1125 W. Spruce St. in Olathe and 6440 Nieman Road in Shawnee. Gun locks are also available in area police stations, hospitals and other community locations through partnership with Project ChildSafe.
If you frequent a location in the community that you believe would be a good spot to distribute free gun locks, contact the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition, visit jocogov.org/spc.