In Washington State, three in every four firearm deaths are suicides. Access to firearms triples the risk of suicide. Empathetic conversation about firearm safety and mental health is associated with more people using safe gun storage, reducing the risk of preventable injury and death. Washington State provides three critical interventions to support an individual in crisis:
An Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), which voters approved in 2016 through Initiative 1491, is one way to protect someone you care about from harming themselves or others with firearms. Before and during times of crisis, ERPOs can help you intervene to keep the people you care about safe.
How to use an ERPO:
Why use an ERPO?
ERPOs can keep at-risk loved ones safe from a suicide attempt or an attempt to harm others with a firearm. ERPOs are an effective tool to prevent suicide. One study found that for every 10 to 20 ERPOs granted, 1 suicide was prevented. ERPOs may also be useful for preventing mass shootings, homicides, and intimate partner shootings.
Safe Storage of your firearms to a place outside your household can reduce the availability and immediate access to lethal means for people in crisis. It will help prevent suicide or self-harm, is voluntary and allows you to retrieve the gun when the crisis has passed.
How to use safe storage:
Many retailers consider offering storage on a case-by-case basis; please reach out to them to discuss whether they can accommodate your request. Do not carry firearms into a police station without calling in advance. Lock firearms in a case or leave them locked in your truck or car while making arrangements with law enforcement. Some locations have pick-up services; you may ask about that when you call.
Why use safe storage?
By being proactive about firearm safety and access, you can protect yourself and loved ones from firearm injury or suicide.
Voluntary Waiver of Firearm Rights (Voluntary Do-Not-Sell) is a firearm safety and suicide prevention strategy to keep you and your family safe. In Washington state, an individual who is concerned about suicidal thoughts may voluntarily ask to be put on a Do-Not-Sell list used during the background check process. This request is fully reversible, and may happen in consultation with your medical provider. The goal is to reduce suicide risk by voluntarily and confidentially restricting immediate access to firearm purchase.
How to use Voluntary Do-Not-Sell:
Individual files Voluntary Waiver of Firearm Rights at a county clerk’s office (requires photo ID).
Information is submitted to national database to restrict firearm purchases.
Individual can remove their name after a week at the same county clerk’s office where they originally filed. At that time, all documentation is destroyed.
Why use Voluntary Do-Not-Sell?
Stops impulsive firearm purchases at a time when you or a loved one feels actively suicidal. It can be easily reversed by the individual when no longer needed.
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