HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJTV) – Many people like to believe tragedy will never strike them. Like a loved one committing suicide. USM Professor Dr. Mike Anestis studies suicidology. He is working to change that attitude. He compares it to another view that has changed in the past few decades.
“If you go back 30 years and ask someone to hold their keys when they’ve had something to drink, they’re more likely to hit you than give you their keys. But now we all understand that that’s the thing you do in that moment. That’s the way we stay safe,” said Anestis. “We have to change the mentality the same way. Which is, we didn’t ban cars or ban drinking we just changed our behavior a little bit. We need to do the same thing here. Get folks to embrace the idea of you can be smart, strong, safe gun owner and practice suicide prevention; even though you think it’ll never touch your life.”
Dr. Anestis has written a book titled “Guns and Suicide, an American Epidemic”. Anestis says that properly storing weapons can lower the suicide-by-gun rate.
“Most of us have been touched by suicide one way or another. We know somebody, but we didn’t know it was coming,” said Anestis. “And so the best way to keep our loved ones and ourselves safe is to be proactive.”
Anestis says that almost 68 percent of suicides in Mississippi were committed with a firearm in 2015. That’s 18 percent higher than the national average. In 2016 the numbers were just as eye-opening.
“So far more often than not, when a suicide death occurs in Mississippi it occurs with a gun,” said Anestis. “And what I’d say is most folks hear that and they say “yeah but that’s not me,” or “that’s not my buddy,” and what I’d say is, it could be.”