Firearms are the most common method of suicide

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Nov. 10—Firearms were used in the majority of suicides in 2019, according to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Ohio veterans used firearms in 73.5% of the 257 suicides in 2019, a much higher percentage than adults in the general population in Ohio and the U.S. Firearms were used in 54.8% of suicides by Ohio adults and 50.8% by U.S. adults.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced a comprehensive, cross-sector public health strategy for reducing those veteran and military suicides, which the White House called "a public health and national security crisis."

"Since 2010, more than 65,000 veterans have died by suicide — more than the total number of deaths from combat during the Vietnam War and the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan combined," according to a fact sheet released by the Biden Administration.

The new strategy includes improving access to high-quality crisis care and after-care, addressing issues that increase risk for suicide, increasing research coordination and data sharing and doing more rigorous evaluation of prevention and treatment programs, according to the fact sheet.

It also includes measures to improve safety around lethal means of suicide, including firearms and medications.

"Studies have shown that reducing access to lethal means, including firearms and medications-particularly in times of crisis-can save lives," the fact sheet said, "Suicide crises are often brief, so strategies that create 'time and space' between a person in crisis and their access to a firearm are lifesaving."

The new strategy will: — Educate the public on lethal means safety, safer storage practices and safety planning. — Increase lethal means training and planning for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs network providers and other healthcare providers. — Make it easier for people to obtain secure gun storage and safety devices. — Promote best practices for federal firearms dealers regarding safety and security practices and customer education.

"If they choose to purchase a firearm, responsible gun owners should safely store their firearms to prevent individuals who could be a danger to themselves or others from using the weapon," the fact sheet said. "Additionally, firearms dealers have a responsibility to take common sense steps to keep their customers and communities safe.

There are resources available to help people who are in crisis or struggling with thoughts of suicide. Those include: — National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-8255 — Veterans Crisis Line — 1-800-273-8255 Press 1 or Text 838255 — Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center Suicide Prevention Team 937-268-6511 Ext. 2675

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