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Time + Distance Saves Lives: DON, VA Partner to Promote Lethal Means Safety

05 October 2022

WASHINGTON - This year the Department of the Navy Office of Force Resiliency (DON OFR), in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), distributed 200,000 gun locks to Navy and Marine Corps installations. This effort advances fleet-wide lethal means safety education for suicide prevention.

Lethal means safety involves making a method of suicide – or means – more difficult to access when someone is at risk for suicide.

“Suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based interventions,” said Andrea N. Goldstein, acting director, DON OFR. “Research tells us that putting time and distance between an at-risk individual and a means of suicide is an effective way to prevent suicide. We are grateful to the VA for their partnership and providing this tool for our Sailors and Marines.”

Safely storing firearms and other lethal means can prevent suicide by adding barriers between suicidal impulse and action. The gunlocks, outfitted with contact information for the Military/Veterans Crisis Line, provide a tangible prevention mechanism to mitigate self-harm in a time of crisis.

While owning a firearm does not cause someone to be suicidal, research suggests storing a loaded firearm in the home may make the risk of death by suicide four to six times greater.

“Firearms are one of the most lethal and common method for suicide among service members and their families,” said Dr. Matthew Miller, director of suicide prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs. “The VA is poised to continue partnerships with the Services to keep service members, veterans and their families safe. Together, our Departments are encouraging safer storage practices, safety planning, and time and space measures for crisis response.”

Suicide can be an impulsive decision. It can take less than 10 minutes between thinking about suicide to acting on it.

“Everyone plays a role in preventing suicide,” said Goldstein. “In addition to safely storing firearms and other lethal means, we can protect our families and friends by listening, providing an open and supportive environment, and connecting them to local resources.”

The gunlocks are available at local Fleet and Family Support Centers and Marine Corps Community Services locations as well as VA facilities throughout the country.

More lethal means safety information for service members and families can be found at

Additional resources for DOD personnel in crisis include:


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