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'Suicide gun deaths – they happen, they're real, and we are working to try and prevent them as much as we can.'

Be Smart for Kids

Noel Kopriva is a member of Missouri Moms Demand Action, a nonpartisan group working toward common sense gun regulation.

She spoke about how gun owners can keep their families safe and help prevent suicide deaths using the“Be SMART” modelof ownership.

You can read more about Moms Demand Action in this month's Vox magazine.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words.

Noel Kopriva: I think it's 35, 34% of the gun – of gun deaths are suicides, and safe, secure storage is one way to save lives, and that's what Be SMART is about.

So, “S” stands for secure your weapon. Store it safely. So, you store it and lock it up, and then you store your ammunition somewhere else also locked up.

And that in itself, I think is the most important thing because many suicides are, they're impulsive, and if you can slow down in the amount of time that it takes for somebody to get to a weapon, you can save lives.

I just think that kids, I mean, when I was little, I used to get out my Dad's shells and play with them. I pretended they were lipstick because they were red, and I just thought they were – I did, I probably did think they were played lipstick.

And I think that kids like guns because they're shiny, and they look like toys, and that is how you hear these stories of kids accidentally shooting themselves or other people, because they don't realize the gun is loaded. That's why the “S” is so important, as well.

And I think for parents and people who are gun owners, the “M” is model. So, you're raising your kids to become responsible gun owners. When you model safe storage, you're raising them to be aware.

"Many suicides are, they're impulsive, and if you can slow down in the amount of time that it takes for somebody to get to a weapon, you can save lives."
Noel Kopriva

The other thing you can do, “A” – ask. This is the hardest thing to do ask, you know, like if you're having a play date, for example, you don't, you just have to make yourself say “Hey, you know, if you have guns are they safely stored.”

And then we come to “R,” which is to respect suicide. I think times have changed. When I was coming up, suicide was something that wasn't talked about at all, or if it was it was considered a sign of weakness.
Now we want to respect the fact that people who die by suicide gun deaths – they happen, they're real, and we are working to try and prevent them as much as we can.

And then if we're talking to kids or to parents who have, gun owners. We ask them to help their kids talk with their peers, teach their peers how to create this kind of cycle of safety, and that is really the focus of Be SMART. This is a way to just keep everyone healthy and alive.

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide and needs help, call 911 or call/text 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Help is also available via live chat. Para ayuda en español, llame al 988.


This conversation was reported was Matthew Hill.

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.