Successful Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot "Next Chapter" Partners With Local Firearms Stores
El Paso County coroner reports that veterans in the county are the only demographic with decreased suicide rate for 2022
EL PASO COUNTY (June 19, 2023) - Next Chapter, the veteran suicide prevention pilot program in El Paso County is partering with local firearm dealers to promote suicide prevention efforts and expand program awareness. The pilot is funded by the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) and led by UCHealth.
The new partnership comes after Next Chapter had a successful first year. Now, participating firearms dealers in El Paso County will promote gun safety and emphasize suicide prevention. Next Chapter will also attend suicide prevention events to help veterans and their families access services, as well as share resources with the community. Colorado legislature funded Next Chapter during the 2021 session (SB 21-129.) Services have been available since June of 2022.
"Next Chapter has been proven very successful since its launch in June 2022, surpassing anticipated enrollment with 380 Veterans and family members enrolled. The El Paso County Coroner is reporting Veterans are the only demographic with decreased suicide rates for 2022." said Megan Lee, Crisis Program Manager at the BHA.
Participating firearms dealers say partnering with Next Chapter is the natural extension of the gun safety conversation.
"It just makes sense for us to be involved in this effort, said Melissa Lockburner, owner of Magnum Shooting Center in Colorado Springs. "A significant number of our members and staff are veterans. We encourage all firearms owners to use and store firearms safely and securely at all times. This is especially true when a crisis hits a family or an individual. We are committed to helping raise awareness of this critical concern for our community."
"Self-inflicted death by firearm is the leading cause of death among veterans in El Paso County. It just makes sense to speak directly to firearms owners where they practice shooting and purchase firearms. The voice of firearms owners has to be part of the solution," said Damian McCabe, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and Next Chapter program director at UCHealth.
The BHA is excited to grow community collaborations like Next Chapter. These programs deliver services to people right where they live, helping Colorado increase access to care and take steps to ease the behavioral health crisis in the state.
This new partnership with firearm dealers and shooting centers would not be possible without the continued support of community partners like UCHealth, Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Colorado Springs (NAMI).
About the Behavioral Health Administration
The Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) is a cabinet member-led agency within the State of Colorado, housed within the Department of Human Services, and is designed to be the single entity responsible for driving coordination and collaboration across state agencies to address behavioral health needs. Find us online at https://bha.colorado.gov/ or follow us on social media at @BHAConnect.