Good morning, Bulletin readers. The rate of suicides among veterans has long outpaced that of the general population. To combat the crisis, a new VA outreach guide places safe gun storage and community organizing at the forefront. More on that in your Tuesday bulletin.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
The VA’s new tool kit for reducing veteran suicides. Guns are used in almost 70 percent of veteran suicides, compared to nearly 50 percent of suicides among the general population. On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a suicide prevention tool kit, developed in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, that promotes safe gun storage. “Programs to promote safe firearm storage among service members and veterans are most effective when they are carried out by and with the community, instead of coming from outside the community without their support,” the guide reads.
Why suicide prevention resources are essential during the pandemic: “We have a perfect social brew for increased suicide risk — social isolation, anxiety, financial ruin,” Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Gun Policy and Research, said last week. “So many folks experiencing those sets of emotions and conditions, have access to a gun.”
Despite state shutdown, San Diego forges ahead with red flag orders. The city said it has served 46 gun violence restraining orders in the last six weeks. The cases involved domestic violence, disputes between neighbors, and threats of suicide. In one, a person became “overwhelmed by his fear of COVID-19” and fired a gun in his apartment. “Law enforcement is taking threats of violence during this pandemic very seriously and dangerous behavior will not be excused as an unavoidable result of intense anxiety or confinement to close quarters,” said City Attorney Mara W. Elliott. Don’t miss: Last year Alain Stephens reported how Elliot’s vigorous usage of gun violence restraining orders made San Diego County a national leader.
ICYMI: On Friday, Virginia became the 19th state to enact a red flag law. It was one of five new gun reforms signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam.
Three men were shot while setting up a memorial to a gunshot victim. Two men were killed, and a third wounded, in the East Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan this past weekend. The men were placing candles at an intersection for their friend who was fatally shot in a domestic incident just a day earlier.
The NRA sues another state for shutting down gun stores. The federal lawsuit, filed on Friday with other gun rights groups and local store owners, targets New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham over her order requiring gun stores and shooting ranges to close. The suit follows nearly identical ones in California, Massachusetts, and New York. Last week, a district judge denied the California challenge. Currently five states have shuttered dealers under their stay-at-home directives.
891% — the increase in calls received by the Disaster Distress Helpline, a federal mental health crisis hotline, in March compared to the same period last year. — CNN