Partner Profile: Hold My Guns
The Northwest Pennsylvania (NW PA) Veteran Suicide Prevention Program operates on a three-pronged approach involving healthcare providers, community organizations, and Veterans and their families in the 15 counties of NW PA. This article marks the start of our “Partner Profile” series highlighting the businesses, organizations, and agencies working with PERU to reduce suicide deaths of those who have served in the armed forces.
Read time: 5 minutes
How is Hold My Guns Making a Difference?
The Hold My Guns (HMG) mission is to connect responsible firearm owners with voluntary, private off-site storage options during times of mental health crisis or personal need.
HMG provides the following services to communities:
- Firearms Storage
- Community Outreach
- Crisis Awareness Training
- Mental Health Advocacy
HMG helps to connect individuals and families to vetted and approved off-site firearm storage partners. Off-site storage helps prevent suicide, accidental shootings, theft of firearms, and stolen firearms used in crimes. Practical scenarios for using off-site storage might include preventing unauthorized access to firearms during the sale of a home, while away on vacation, while a household member or guest is prohibited from being around firearms, when providing emergency housing to an at-risk foster child, during military deployment, etc. Other scenarios might include volatile times such as during a divorce or when a household member is experiencing depression or going through mental health or medical treatment that would increase their risk for harming themselves or others.
HMG sponsors educational and volunteer opportunities through their federal firearms license (FFL) partners. For example, a recent collaboration between the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Taskforce and the Lower Providence Rod and Gun Club (LPRGC) in Audubon, PA, provided QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Institute Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training to approximately 50 members of the firearms community. Participants received a certificate of completion.
Crisis Awareness Training
HMG co-founder and executive director Sarah Joy Albrecht and board member Paul Jones are certified as QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Instructors. Their goal is to equip the firearms community, including clubs, ranges, and shops, with training in suicide prevention, how to emphasize the importance of protective factors, and connecting at-risk individuals to resources that meet their unique needs.
Mental Health Advocacy
HMG strives to cultivate a helpful, stigma-free approach to mental wellness that incorporates the social connections within the firearms community. They believe that times of hardship should be met with an outpouring of compassion and camaraderie. Isolation and disconnectedness are risk factors for suicide, which HMG confronts by sponsoring voluntary community activities through partnering gun shops, ranges, and clubs. By serving one another, HMG hopes to create a sense of pride and camaraderie through working together to make a difference in neighborhoods and communities.
Contact HMG to get involved with their outreach, training, and advocacy programs or become an off-site storage partner.
Our Advisory Group Partners
Since launching the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program, the support and expertise of our partners have been a dedicated and valuable resource. We encourage you to learn more about them, and the services they offer to help reduce Veteran suicide risk, on our website.
Help Us Reduce Veteran Suicide Deaths. Get Involved.
To learn more about the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program, visit the website at theresilientveteran.org.
Need Help? Know Someone Who Does? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.