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In February 2021, Wendy Brumbaugh, Shelby County Economic Development Director received a two-year planning grant for $117,000 from Missouri Foundation for Health. The title for the grant is “Shelby County Cares” with the focus being on Gun Suicide Prevention. This initiative is facilitated by Open Fields with regular zoom meetings. Eleven Shelby County members are serving on the coalition
Suicide rates have risen more than 30% between 1999 and 2016. In Missouri, rates have increased 36% making suicide the 10th leading cause of death. Missouri ranks number 16 in the USA. And in Missouri Shelby County ranks very high per capita.
Guns are a uniquely lethal method of suicide. In Missouri, six out of every 10 suicides involve a gun, with approximately 85% of attempts ending in death. Research shows that a person can think about suicide for an extended period but the decision to act in a brief and vulnerable moment can happen in less than an hour. Nationally, men are significantly more likely to commit suicide than women and the rate is highest in middle aged white males. Nationally, on average there are 130 suicides per day, an average of one person every 11 minutes. Suicide attempts are one every 26.6 seconds.
Those statistics are startling and one reason for the grant.
This is a planning grant to develop a plan to eliminate suicides and focus on awareness. Because firearms are the most lethal, much of the discussion will revolve around guns. But in no way is the result going to have anything to do with gun rights, or taking guns away. Shelby County has prime hunting ground and the percentage of residents owning at least one gun is very high. This grant will focus on gun safety, learning signs and symptoms of people contemplating suicide, defining a role for the community to step up and assist people in need, reaching out to our neighbors, and increasing mental health facilities/staff. .
The coalition met Tuesday night and discussed important details for the grant. There is much research and work to do within the next two years. One goal is to have difficult & caring conversations with family and community members affected by suicide to learn more about the signs or lack of. You may be receiving a questionnaire in the mail and we encourage you to answer and return it. If you are interested in serving on the coalition for suicide prevention or have questions in general, contact Wendy Brumbaugh at 573-822-9498.