Oak Tree looks at how it can help pre­vent sui­cides

The Signal - - NEWS - By An­drew Clark Sig­nal Staff Writer For those con­sid­er­ing sui­cide, call the 24hour preven­tion life­line at 1-800-273-8255.

Oak Tree Gun Club is look­ing into start­ing a pro­gram for gun own­ers at risk of sui­cide to vol­un­tar­ily and tem­po­rar­ily turn over firearms while the owner seeks help.

Betsy James, whose fam­ily has owned the gun club since 2000, said she would con­sider pro­vid­ing such a pro­gram dur­ing a meet­ing of the Means Re­duc­tion Sub­com­mit­tee of the Santa Clarita Val­ley Sui­cide Preven­tion, Postven­tion and Well­ness Com­mit­tee at the gun club.

“The re­al­ity is they need a place to bring their guns,” she said. “We will fa­cil­i­tate the se­cure stor­age of their firearms, but to be able to pro­vide a ser­vice to say, ‘If you sus­pect you or any mem­ber of your fam­ily may be sui­ci­dal and there are firearms in your home, then we can pro­vide a se­cure stor­age for that.’ We have the li­censes. We have the means and the in­fra­struc­ture to do it.”

James said there were some lo­gis­ti­cal and le­gal hur­dles to clear, along with the cre­ation of a vet­ting process.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t want guns in their house just be­cause they don’t have places to store them,” she said. “We don’t want to be stor­ing thou­sands of peo­ple’s guns and have to be re­spon­si­ble. But we could come up with a way to come up with a rea­son­able ser­vice.”

Randy Del Cid, a so­cial worker at the Chatsworth Vets Cen­ter, said he had been ap­proached by a vet­eran last year and asked to store his firearms.

“He wanted to give them to me be­cause he was sui­ci­dal, but I can’t take them,” he said, adding that the vet­eran wasn’t com­fort­able with stor­ing them with the Sher­iff’s Depart­ment. “He stored them at his girl­friend’s house. This (pro­gram) would have been awe­some.”

Larry Schallert, chair of the com­mit­tee and as­sis­tant director of Stu­dent Health and Well­ness/ Men­tal Health at Col­lege of the Canyons, said there were nine sui­cides by way of firearms last year.

“Ev­ery sin­gle day, I talk to some­one who is sui­ci­dal at the col­lege,” he said, adding that he tries to pro­vide re­sources to those at risk of com­mit­ting sui­cide.

Dr. Gene Do­rio, one of the com­mit­tee mem­bers, said the gun club stor­age is a great idea.

“I think it needs to be done and this is part of what this com­mit­tee is do­ing try­ing to fig­ure out how we can cam­paign to save an­other per­son from com­mit­ting sui­cide or killing their fam­ily,” he said.

The Santa Clarita Val­ley Sui­cide Preven­tion, Postven­tion and Well­ness Com­mit­tee has worked to de­crease the num­ber of peo­ple who end their lives over the past five years by pro­vid­ing tools for those with men­tal ill­nesses and equip peo­ple with the knowl­edge to help rec­og­nize warn­ing signs.

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