As a firearm business, you’re focused on the day-to-day details of running a successful business. For a club, the focus is similarly on smooth operations. But what happens if someone decides to commit suicide at the range or in your store?
September is known as National Suicide Prevention Month, a time when awareness, causes and prevention of suicide are discussed around the country.
Special resources are available for firearm-related businesses and clubs, including from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Lockton Affinity Outdoor. Read on to learn more.
Mounting Risks of Suicide
It’s no secret that things have been difficult for a lot of people over the last several years and recent headlines don’t offer much optimism that things will improve anytime soon.
Such increased pressures can lead to more suicides overall, which have climbed more than 9% since 2010.
Plus, with one of the biggest factors in suicide being access to firearms, a firearm-related business or club is at higher risk of a customer, member or employee deciding to end their life on the premises.
Firearm Businesses and Suicide
Thanks to the remarkable people they attract, the 18,000-plus ranges and clubs in the U.S. are incredibly safe, with few, if any, incidents in a given year. However, some of them will eventually have the misfortune of experiencing a suicide.
When a suicide happens at the range or in the store, it impacts everything. The event itself can be traumatic for those who directly witness it, but can also surface painful memories for others. Dealing with the aftermath can also cause owners and operators stress and financial strain.
While dealing with any suicide is difficult, being prepared can help. Access to the right information and the ability to plan a response before an incident occurs can help your club or business recover if and when it’s needed.
Information for Businesses and Clubs
Information is available to help firearm-related businesses and clubs know what to do after a suicide at your facility.
The NSSF and AFSP recommend these action steps when an incident occurs:
- Contact local first responders by dialing 911.
- Follow emergency personnel instructions.
- Cooperate with law enforcement officials.
- Secure the area and consider closing early.
- Reach out to a biohazard cleanup specialist.
- Meet with staff witnesses to gather information.
- Review customer history of the deceased.
- Notify your insurance company of the incident.
- Schedule a meeting with all staff members.
- Contact mental health support professionals.
- Designate a primary contact for all inquiries.
- Notify legal counsel and media representatives.
A full staff meeting should be held as soon as possible in the 24 to 48 hours following the incident, covering the following to-dos:
- Share updated information about what is known.
- Allow staff the opportunity to share their reactions.
- Provide staff general information about suicide.
- Make mental health support resources available.
- Emphasize the importance of safe firearm storage.
- Discuss a procedure for customer/media inquiries.
- Make a plan on what to do if the family reaches out.
- Ask staff not to share information with the public.
- Check in with any staff unable to attend the meeting.
- Discuss a plan for notifying customers and members.
In the following weeks, owners and operators should also plan to:
- Follow up with all staff members to make sure they’re ok.
- Provide extra support to any staff who show signs of stress.
- Make sure customer and member notification is complete.
- Review and update policies and procedures as needed.
- Determine if ongoing expert support services are needed.
More resources are available for businesses and clubs. The NSSF and AFSP have developed a Suicide Prevention Toolkit specifically for range owners and firearm retailers. The kit includes a welcome letter, informational brochures, poster and table-top display.
Additionally, insurance resources are available from Lockton Affinity Outdoor that can help you manage your risk. While insurance policies are not intended to cover the act of suicide itself, liability coverage is available for businesses and clubs who experience a suicide on site. This type of coverage can help pay for legal fees, judgements and other costs you might face after an incident.
To learn more about our insurance, visit LocktonAffinityOutdoor.com or call (844) 401-9444.