The San Juan County Zero Suicide Coalition is planning a number of events for September to draw attention to the epidemic of suicide in San Juan County, and throughout Utah, in honor of National Suicide Prevention Month.
The coalition has been busy in recent months attempting to address the issue of gun safety in helping to prevent suicide. As part of this effort, the coalition has initiated the Means Restriction Project, intended to help secure firearms in a locked gun safe and prevent individuals who might have suicidal tendencies from gaining access to a firearm. The Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. Behavioral Health Unit secured several gun safes from Sportsman’s Warehouse, in Heber City, in May. These gun safes were offered at discounted prices, for distribution in San Juan County. Rick Hendy, UNHS Behavioral Health Director, traveled to Heber City to collect the safes. Chelsea Cunningham of Sportsman’s Warehouse was on hand to help Hendy load the safes. When she heard about the Means Restriction Project, she agreed to drop the price on the gun safes from $120 to $80 on twenty safes, saving the coalition $800.
“I understand the whole thing about trying to help people. I know how important it is to get things locked up and away from people so they don’t harm themselves,” Cunningham said. “Rick called and asked if we could help. I thought about it and I figured out our costs so we could make a little and still allow them to help as many families as possible.”
These twenty gun safes are available for free at various mental health and behavioral health agencies, hospitals, clinics and law enforcement agencies throughout San Juan County. The agencies will make these safes available, for free, to families and households where they might be needed to help prevent possible suicide and attempted suicide crises. To qualify for one of these free gun safes, a household must have a gun in the home and someone 25 years of age or older in the home. They also must meet at least one of the following criteria: a recent crisis, someone in the home who has talked about suicide, a behavioral health consultation and a therapist’s recommendation for a safe or, a previous history of suicide attempts by someone in the home. The application requires the name of the agency giving the safe and the signatures of two employees of that agency. The applications are available from all participating agencies. Once the completed application is delivered to a participating agency, and approved, a safe can be given to that household.
Behavioral Health and Mental Health professionals from UNHS and San Juan Counseling strongly urge any household with young people living in, or visiting the home, to take the following precautions: 1. Lock Up all guns and not allow children and teens unsupervised, unauthorized firearm access. 2. Limit access to keys and combinations of all gun safes only to the firearm owner. 3. Choose carefully a safe storage device for home-defense firearms with fast access for you only.
If you are concerned about yourself, a friend or a family member they recommend the following: 1. Give a trusted individual the keys and combination to your safe. 2. Ask a friend or relative to hold firearms in an emergency as a temporary transfer. 3. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Veterans Press 1. In a Crisis Text: 741-741.
For more information about the Means Restriction Project or to learn more about how to qualify for a free gun safe in your home, contact San Juan Counseling at 435-678-2992, or contact any UNHS Behavioral Health Department at Blanding Family Practice, Montezuma Creek or Monument Valley Community Health Centers.