AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine will invest $230 million in suicide prevention and mental health services statewide after a report found that more than 85% of firearm deaths fire in 2020 were suicides.
The state report released this week concluded that 132 of the 154 people killed by firearms in 2020 died by suicide. According to the report, 118 of the suicides involved men, Le Portland Press Herald reported Wednesday.
The research by the Center for Disease Control and the state’s Department of Human Services coincides with the gun control debate that has reignited in the United States after the deaths of 19 children and two teachers in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and 10 black people were killed in a racist shooting in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
Many states have adopted so-called red flag laws, which remove firearms from people who could harm themselves or others. Florida passed a law after the 2018 Parkland high school shooting. In Maine, a “yellow flag” law requires a medical professional to sign off before weapons are removed. Republican Senator from Maine Susan Collins has been pushing for something similar at the federal level.
State lawmakers and advocates have also called for an overhaul of Maine’s mental health system and further limiting access to gun ownership for those in crisis, the Press Herald reported.
Rep. Lori Gramlich, a Democrat who sponsored the bill that led to the report, said “the most alarming data point in this report is about suicides and that’s a mental health issue.”
Greg Marley, director of suicide prevention at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Maine, said he was not surprised by the data, but he hopes the report will raise awareness about the role of firearms in suicide. and create preventive measures.
Maine is below the national average when it comes to gun violence, but has a much higher rate of suicides and attempted suicides with guns, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization in nonprofit that tracks gun deaths across the country.
This story was first published on June 8, 2022. It was updated on June 9, 2022 to correct the title to say the state is investing money in behavioral health, not just prevention suicide; and the story that says the money is being invested in suicide prevention and mental health services, not suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)