Wyoming Guns and Suicide: An Unfortunate Duo
Wyoming and guns go hand in hand, literally and statistically. Wyoming is second to Montana for gun ownership (by a fraction of a percent: 66.30 percent of Montana households have a gun; 66.20 percent of Wyoming households do).
Wyoming also ranks fourth in the nation for the highest gun death rate.
Firearms were used in 75 percent of Wyoming suicides, according to the Wyoming Department of Health, and in 2021, 155 people died by firearm in Wyoming, a 26 percent death rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In a gun-loving state, safety is key. Psychology teacher at Laramie High School Corey Scimeca said she thinks one reason guns and suicide in the state are correlative is due to “The relaxed attitude about having loaded guns in the household. So many people have loaded firearms that are not secured. Guns are the most lethal way of suicide; if a person has access to guns and is suicidal it is more likely they will complete suicide.”
The Firearms Research Center (FRC) at the University of Wyoming College of Law is combatting these statistics with its new website dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention. The FRC partnered with the Cheyenne Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Walk the Talk America to create a page for gun safety information and a mental health directory.
“The suicide crisis is devastating families across the nation, and the Firearms Research Center is committed to doing our part to raise awareness and provide resources to the public,” said FRC Executive Director Ashley Hlebinsky in UW’s news release this week.
“Through this webpage, the FRC hopes to educate those who own, use, sell, and/or rent firearms about safe handling and storage practices, as well as encourage efforts to prevent suicide involving firearms.”
FRC Director George Mocsary said, “As we recognize September as Suicide Prevention Month, we hope this new online hub will educate, empower, and, ultimately, help save a life.”
To access the new suicide awareness and prevention site, visit the page here.