, TN — September is Suicide Prevention Month, and VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (TVHS) is hosting its first annual Firearm Safety Day September 13 - 15 to spread awareness and prevent Veteran suicide.
Although the national Veteran suicide rate decreased from 60% to 52.3%, firearm injury was the leading cause of Veteran suicide in 2019, according to VA’s 2021 National Suicide Prevention Annual Report.
“Raising awareness about firearm safety is our top priority,” Lesley Murray, TVHS Suicide Prevention Program Manager said. “Often times, suicidal thoughts are impulsive and time-limited, so being able to put time and distance between the thought and the action is critical. That’s why we’re holding the Firearm Safety Day because resources like gun locks and awareness prevent suicide.”
In Tennessee, there were 185 Veteran suicides in 2019, and firearm injury accounted for 81.6% of those deaths.
Veterans will get the opportunity to learn the connection between firearm safety and mental health treatment and can get free gun locks to secure their weapons at the TVHS Firearm Safety Day. The event will be held at the Chattanooga VA Clinic September 13, the Alvin C. York VA campus in Murfreesboro September 14, and the Nashville and Clarksville VA locations September 15.
TVHS is an integrated tertiary health care system comprised of two hospitals, the Alvin C. York campus in Murfreesboro and the Nashville campus, as well as 19 community-based outpatient clinics located in Tennessee and Kentucky. TVHS provides ambulatory care, primary care, and secondary care in acute medicine and surgery, specialized tertiary care, transplant services, spinal cord injury outpatient care, and a full range of extended care and mental health services.