The Firearms Research Center, Wyoming Department of Health, and Cheyenne Veterans Health Administration (VHA) are pleased to provide resources on suicide awareness and prevention. Sustainable, comprehensive, and effective prevention systems can improve the wellbeing and resilience of all Americans.

Death by suicide is a major problem in the United States. While suicide attempts with a firearm in the United States only account for 5% of all suicides attempts, this method has a 90% lethality rate. Nationally, more than half of firearm deaths are from suicide and more than 80% of firearm deaths are from suicide in the state of Wyoming, which has the highest rate of suicide in the country.

Through this webpage, the FRC hopes to educate those who own, use, sell, and/or rent firearms about safe handling and storage practices, as well as encourage efforts to prevent suicide involving firearms.


Know The Risks

Most people who die by suicide exhibited one or more warning signs, including:

Increased use of alcohol or drugs
Talking about death or suicide
Worsening mental health
Withdrawing from activities, family, and friends
Sleeping too little or too much
Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
Giving away prized possessions

What to Do


Seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness, and chances for recovery are excellent. Remember that it’s ok to ask someone if they’re struggling – asking won’t prompt suicide – or if you’re struggling to ask for help.

Here are some resources that can help:

Call or text 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, to connect with free care and support during a mental health crisis. Veterans can press 1 for Veteran-specific resources.
Text HOME to 741-741 to access the Crisis Text Line. (in Wyoming) (for LGBTQ young people)

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming him or herself, please call 911.


When firearms remain in the home, it is best to utilize a combination of lethal means safety techniques and safe storage to build more time and space between accessing the firearm and action. 40% of teen suicide is with a firearm, almost always from the home.

I.e., placing a gun lock on the firearm and putting it into a safe; disassembling the firearm and storing ammunition in a separate place. An important component to these methods not only secures the firearms but also slow the access time during a crisis.

This video from Walk the Talk America provides a helpful overview for storage considerations.



Ensure that Firearms are Secured at All Times

Take the time and resources to invest in a case, lock box or safe to keep your firearms secured. Properly storing a firearm can prevent firearms from getting into the hands of one who is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Research shows that roughly 25% of suicide attempts are made with 5 minutes or less of consideration time.

Lock up each of your firearms and be very cautious and deliberate about (1) who you allow to access your firearm storage, and (2) to whom you lend or give firearms. Keys to your firearm storage should not be easily discoverable by those without permission. Cable locks, trigger locks, and clamshell locks are an option when more robust storage devices are not.

Keep Loaded Only Those Firearms on Which You Rely for Protection

Keep the rest unloaded and store the ammunition in a separate (and secure) location. Those on which you rely for protection should—like all firearms—be accessible only to authorized users whom you completely trust and/or are not themselves at risk of unintentional injury or suicide. Remember that teenagers can be at risk of suicide due to social stresses and impulsive behaviors, so consider limiting unsupervised access to firearms, even for teens trained in firearm handling.

Consider Temporary Off-Site Storage if You or a Family Member May Be Suicidal or Considering Self-Harm

Find the nearest safe storage location around you. Voluntary, temporary, storage is provided by some licensed firearms dealers and ranges, as well as pawn shops, storage facilities, or law enforcement agencies. In Wyoming, it’s also legal to store a firearm with a friend or relative (if they are not prohibited from firearm possession). These types of locations can store your firearms while you or a family member are undergoing a crisis, and you can retrieve your firearms after the crisis has passed. The policies for storage will vary, so it’s a good idea to call ahead.

*As of the summer of 2023, the businesses and law enforcement agencies listed on this map are willing to consider requests for temporary, voluntary gun storage. Before taking your firearm to a storage location ask about the process of storing, any costs, whether background checks will be conducted, and time limits.*

Methods are constantly being considered to better secure firearms in a time of crisis. Some organizations such as Walk the Talk America have also come up with additional creative ways to cause a pause before attempting suicide.

For FFL holders, the latest information on laws surrounding safe storage can be found HERE.

If you are an FFL that wants to participate in Wyoming’s temporary, voluntary storage program, click HERE to submit your information.

Rules of Firearm Safety

Although not directly related to self-harm, knowing the standard rules of firearm safety provide a general understanding of how to treat firearms with the respect needed to develop an instinct for where, when, and how firearms can cause unwanted injury and, importantly, how to avoid those injuries.

A firearm’s mechanical safeties will only prevent an unintentional injury or fatality if the owner practices safe handling habits. Before handling a firearm, know its basic parts, the kind of ammunition it requires, how to open and close the action, and how to remove any ammunition if the firearm is loaded. Four basic rules of gun safety are commonly emphasized:

1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded. Never assume a gun is unloaded, safe tied, or otherwise inoperable when handling it. Many firearm accidents —typically called “negligent discharges” — occur because the user mistakenly believes the gun is not ready to fire. The user may wrongly think that the gun is empty when there is a round in the chamber, that the safety is on when it really is off, or that the gun is in good condition mechanically when it is ready to malfunction. Additionally, never rely on someone else’s assurance the gun is unloaded — always check it yourself. Even if you are certain that a gun is unloaded, you must still obey all other safety rules.

2. Always point the gun in a safe direction. This is the practice of muzzle discipline, referring to the end of the gun’s barrel that is pointed toward the target. This rule means that under no circumstances should a gun ever be pointed at any person unless the gun is being used for lawful self-defense. Playfully pointing a gun at other people violates this rule. Never point the gun at anything you do not intend to shoot.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. This is the practice of trigger discipline and is critical to avoid unintentionally firing the gun. Movies and television promote irresponsible gun use by showing supposedly expert shooters violating trigger discipline. There is no reason ever to violate trigger discipline. Even when a gun is being drawn for instant self-defense, the proper motion is to keep the index finger outside the trigger guard until the muzzle is almost on the target. With proper training, trigger discipline does not delay a defensive shot by even a fraction of a second.

4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. This rule reduces the risk of harm to non-targets when the gun is intentionally fired. Such harm can occur if the shooter either misidentifies the intended target or misses the intended target and hits someone or something else around or beyond the target. To avoid misidentifying a target in home defense or other low-light areas, it is best for the shooter to have an attached or hand-held light. The shooter also must be aware what is beyond the intended target because the bullet may pass through the target and hit a non-target due to “overpenetration.” Firearm safety also requires use of two very important pieces of safety equipment. Whenever possible, the shooter should wear safety glasses and ear protection.

Free Mental Health Screening

National Healthcare Provider Directory

Grace for 2 Brothers is providing vouchers for free Mental Health Sessions for those working in Agriculture/Rodeo/Farming communities. For more information for yourself or your provider, call (307) 256-3344.

This work is supported by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture , Grant No. 2021-70035-35378 from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, National Institute of Food & Agriculture.

This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician. No physician-patient relationship is created by this webpage or its use. Neither the Wyoming Department of Health, the University of Wyoming, nor its employees, nor any contributor to this website, makes any representations, express or implied, with respect to the information provided herein or to its use.

Image courtesy of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

Further reading: 

The Cheyenne Veterans Health Administration (VHA) takes a proactive approach to addressing the critical issue of veteran suicide through its Suicide Prevention Program. Committed to the well-being of our nation’s heroes, Cheyenne VHA’s program offers a comprehensive range of services and support systems designed to identify at-risk individuals, provide timely intervention, and promote mental health and resilience among veterans. By fostering a culture of care and compassion, the Cheyenne VHA Suicide Prevention Program aims to reduce the incidence of veteran suicide, ensuring that those who have served our country receive the help and support they deserve.