Siegler: Mental Health Professionals Talking About Guns and Gun Professionals Talking About Mental Health Can Coexist

A treatment digital art creation of a face in CS3.Representation of personal chaos depression or mental problems.

In blue America, the reflexive response to gun violence is often a move to restrict access to firearms. With gun control a nonstarter here, prevention workers like Lauren SinClair of the Department of Veterans Affairs talk instead about creating time and space between a person in crisis and a gun.

One recent week, she had logged hundreds of miles in her Toyota hybrid minivan crisscrossing southern Wyoming visiting local gun shops and advocating for safe storage — where a customer can bring their guns in and store them temporarily in a safe, no questions asked.

At an unannounced drop-in at Frontier Arms & Supply in Cheyenne, she explained to counter staff: “Maybe their teenager is in crisis or they themselves were just saying, ‘Hey, I’m not in the right space to have my firearm at home with me right now. Can you hold that?'”

She was pleased to learn that the shop was already offering this service and getting willing participants. SinClair lost her mother to suicide by firearm when she was a little girl. She says that for too long, suicide prevention and guns were completely siloed from one another in Wyoming.

“They can coexist together: mental health professionals talking about firearms, firearms professionals talking about mental health,” SinClair says. “Those can exist together, and I think for too long there was hesitancy.”

—  Kirk Siegler in ‘We Don’t Want to Be First Place.’ Wyoming Tries to Address High Gun Suicide Rates


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