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What If Gun Dealers Were Part Of Suicide Prevention?

In the future, mental health professionals may not be the only people spreading the word about suicide prevention.

The message could also come from people you’d least likely expect to be front-line educators on suicide awareness: pharmacists, firearm dealers, shooting range operators, and even Fish and Wildlife staff.

It’s part of a proposed bill that a state House Judiciary Committee is considering. Among other actions, the bill would create a taskforce to train these professionals to spot signs of suicide risk.  

Supporters say these steps are needed. Washington’s suicide rate is 14 percent higher than the national average. 

Melissa Fisher of Sultan, Washington lost her 16-year-old nephew, who died by suicide using a firearm. “He obtained that firearm from a neighbor’s vacation home that had unsecured firearms in it,” she said.

Fisher was among those who testified at this week’s committee hearing. Her family, she said, had no idea her nephew was suicidal. She told lawmakers everybody needs to be involved in suicide awareness by knowing the signs and to taking steps to prevent these deaths.

“I have two young children,” she said. “I am also a gun owner. I keep my guns safely secured in a safe, locked down."

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday afternoon.

Year started with KUOW: 1994