A group that advocates for stricter gun control came to the capital Monday to talk about suicide. Jeremy Brigham, the coordinator for the Suicide Prevention Committee of “Iowans Against Gun Violence,” says they don’t want to remove all guns from people’s homes. Brigham says they want to educate people about the risk a gun poses in a home where someone may consider taking their own life. Because it’s such a lethal weapon, he says “Very few people go to the hospital with a gunshot wound because of a suicide attempt. Most of them are dead.”
Survivors who’ve lost loved ones to suicide came along to request the state create an office to coordinate steps to prevent suicide. Polk County has a suicide-prevention coalition, he says, and other counties could do the same thing. The group hopes to see things that are working locally get picked up by people in other parts of the state, and hopes a suicide-prevention office could help them share those ideas.
They’ve been talking with emergency-room nurses about asking people about lethal weapons in the home when a person’s brought in with injuries that might signal they’ve tried to harm themselves. He says one answer could be a local chapter or a group called “SPAN-USA.” That stands for “Suicide Prevention Action Network USA,” a chapter that would be connected nationally but composed of local volunteer members.
Brigham says such a group “could really take the ball and run with it.” He says their work’s getting out awareness and if not this year, it may pass next year. He cites other states that have state suicide-prevention and awareness offices including Washington, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri. “It’s a wave that’s happening and Iowa’s a little behind the curve.”