Intermountain Healthcare is collaborating with the Utah Shooting Sports Council and key community partners to develop and distribute educational materials and more than 20,000 free gun locks to gun owners throughout Utah.
This collaborative efforts is designed to help Utah families and loved ones increase safety in their homes – values that are aligned with Intermountain’s suicide prevention goals.
“Utah gun owners and gun groups are important partners in suicide prevention efforts, by working together we can make a difference in reducing death by suicide and unintentional injury through promoting and enabling safe firearm storage and education,” said Karlee Kump, Intermountain community health specialist. “We are friends helping friends.”
This initiative is especially important right now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when firearm sales in Utah have increased, and psychological stresses have been heightened.
Gun locks and safe gun storage are an important safety measure especially when someone is at risk for suicide. Intermountain and the Utah Shooting Sports Council have come together on this issue, recognizing that firearms are the leading method of suicide in the state and putting time and distance between a gun and a person in crisis can save a life.
“As gun owners, we are proud to be part of an effort that makes families safer and reduces suicide risk, and respects 2nd Amendment Rights,” said Clark Aposhian, Chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council. “This is something we can each choose to do without government requirements. By coming together with healthcare, business, and other groups, we are all helping protect those we love.”
In the summer of 2019, Intermountain purchased 25,000 gun locks to be distributed in Southern Idaho and Utah. The locks along with education materials are now available at all Intermountain pharmacies – all at no charge.
The Utah Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health has also partnered with Intermountain for the purchase of 20,000 additional gun locks to go to medical facilities.
The free gun locks are available at hospitals and clinics, and other organizations have also stepped up to provide them. They include MountainStar Healthcare, University of Utah Health, Uintah Basin Healthcare, Hill Air Force Base, and others.
In addition, this month, Harmons Grocery announced they will make the gun locks available to the community, distributed through their pharmacies.
“Caring for our community is one of our core values, and it’s never been more important than it is this year,” said Greg Jones, pharmacy director for Harmons. "People are facing unprecedented stressors with all the unknowns of the coronavirus pandemic, and out of necessity are more isolated than ever before. We’re proud to partner with Intermountain Healthcare to do our part to protect our community.”
“I am proud to work for an organization that is willing to invest in suicide prevention efforts and that has a focus on reducing access to lethal means,” said Kristy Jones, Intermountain senior consultant for mental well-being. “I want to thank and commend every organization who partners with us on this issue. This work cannot be accomplished by one organization alone,”
Intermountain has more suicide prevention resources and trainings available at intermountainhealthcare.org/zerosuicide.