After two individuals committed suicide and one person deliberately shot himself in the last five months using guns rented from a suburban Detroit shooting range, city officials are looking to take preventative steps.
The Royal Oak City Commission met Monday to discuss possible prevention measures after the recent incidents at Target Sports, Patch reports. City staff were directed to consider ordinances that could limit the risk of suicides, as well as to partner with community organizations to increase education and prevention.
City Commissioner Peggy Goodwin focused on awareness, relaying the statistic that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. She pointed to Farmington Hills' Suicide Prevention Task Force, according to Patch, which was formed in 2010 after several young people threatened or attempted suicide in a brief period.
"It's long overdue that we elevate the conversation," she said, according to the Detroit News.
Target Sports made a change to their policy in an effort to prevent shootings in the future. There have been five suicides and two other self-inflicted shootings at the gun range since 2001, the Detroit Free Press reports, with the most recent incident occurring in January.
“They will not rent a gun to an individual that comes in by themselves if they don’t already have a gun in their possession," Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue said at Monday's meeting, according to Patch. The news site reports he is working with the shooting range to determine future solutions. "Every one of the suicides or attempts involved an individual coming in by themself without a gun.”
According to the Detroit News, local crisis intervention agency Common Ground contacted Target Sports to offer their help leading trainings and providing suicide prevention information for display.
A coalition of 10 suicide prevention agencies reiterates the importance of awareness. In a statement addressing firearms, the National Council for Suicide Prevention pushed for "education, awareness and reasonable policy regarding the reduction of access to firearms by individuals determined by a mental health professional to be at risk of harming themselves or others."
Specifically, they called for "additional public awareness campaigns to ensure that all Americans know the warning signs of suicide, which include looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means and talking or writing about death, dying or suicide. With greater public awareness, early intervention becomes the national norm and not the exception."
A 2011 suicide incident at a Wichita, Kan. shooting range prompted the Bullet Shop to consider stricter measures for screening customers, owner Don Holman told news station KWCH, including a "cooling off period." New customers would have to first become members and have a waiting period before being allowed to use the shooting range.
Bullet Shop customers must fill out a form attesting they are not under the influence and describing their mental state.
However, some don't believe voluntary statements are enough. A family who lost their 43-year-old son late last year after he committed suicide at a Wyoming, Mich. gun range called for background checks for gun range customers, according to MLive. They said a screening would have caught his criminal record, which prevents him from possessing a gun.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.