Suicide Prevention & Firearms: May 23, 2016

Suicide accounts for the vast majority of firearm deaths in Washington State. But suicide is often left out of the conversation about gun violence prevention policies. In May 2016, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation in partnership with King County convened local leaders and subject matter experts at the Seatac Airport Conference Center to discuss suicide prevention and gun violence, identify evidence-based best practices, increase coordination on prevention efforts, and identify next steps for local gun violence prevention strategy.

King County Executive Dow Constantine kicked off the day by providing context about King County’s work addressing gun violence. Then Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas welcomed participants to Seattle and introduced our keynote speaker, Dr. Matthew Miller, a professor of epidemiology and Co-Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

After his keynote, Dr. Miller facilitated a panel discussion about lethal means with local experts. The panel featured:

  • Fred Rivara, MD, MPH Seattle Children’s Guild Endowed Chair in Pediatrics Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics Core faculty, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center University of Washington
  • Jennifer Stuber, PhD Faculty Director, ForeFront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention
  • Jeffrey Sung, MD University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Tony Gomez, R.S. Manager Violence and Injury Prevention, Public Health – Seattle & King County Clinical Faculty Instructor – University of Washington School of Public Health

Following the panel, Mamadou Ndiaye from the Washington State Department of Health shared in-depth state data about suicide. During lunch, Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health at Seattle and King County facilitated a group discussion about taking a public health approach to addressing gun violence and firearm suicide. The day ended with roundtable discussions about future opportunities and next steps both in King County and across Washington State.