National Suicide Prevention Month Highlights Importance of Gun Violence Prevention Orders in Preventing Firearm Suicides


On World Suicide Prevention Day, Cal OES and its Partners Advise Californians on the Critical Role Gun Violence Restraining Orders Can Play in Preventing Firearm Suicides When a Loved One is In Crisis

SACRAMENTO – In September, National Suicide Prevention Month, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) highlights the critical role California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) law can play when an individual is in crisis and at risk of harming themselves and/or others.

The purpose of Suicide Prevention Month is to shift perceptions about suicide, provide strategies for prevention and mitigation, and provide those in need with resources available in an effort to save lives.

Cal OES is working to address the gun violence epidemic in California with a $5 million public awareness campaign to educate Californians about the state’s potentially life-saving GVRO law, which can be a tool to prevent firearm suicides. Cal OES is working with the California-based gun violence prevention organization, Hope and Heal Fund, to create and implement culturally appropriate materials for key community members and frontline crisis workers about how to access Gun Violence Restraining Orders.

Research suggests that these laws can save lives. According to a 2017 study on a similar law in Connecticut, for every 10 to 20 orders issued, one suicide is prevented. However, two thirds of Californians do not yet know about the state’s GVRO law.

In California, one out of every two gun deaths is a suicide, and military veterans account for one in four firearm suicides. Access to a firearm increases the risk of death by suicide four-fold.

In an effort to prevent self-harm or harm to others, California’s GVRO law allows for the temporary removal of guns and ammunition from people at risk of self harm and temporarily prohibits them from purchasing a firearm once a Gun Violence Restraining Order has been approved by a court.

Access to a firearm increases the risk of suicide. Adolescents’ risk of suicide, including young Black adolescents, is increased threefold to fourfold if they live in a home with a firearm compared to those who do not. Throughout the state, there is increased concern because young people and teens have reported declining mental health and increased depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When California’s frontline experts are educated and provided resources – in a culturally sensitive and linguistically competent manner – about the Gun Violence Restraining Order law, there is incredible potential to decrease firearm suicides.

Californians who are concerned that someone is a risk to themselves or others and has access to a gun may apply for a Gun Violence Restraining Order or learn more at California Courts Judicial Branch of California.