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Larimer County Launches Gun Safety Campaign To Reduce Teen Suicide

Content warning: this story discusses suicide.

A coalition of law enforcement agencies, public health experts and activists are behind a new effort to reduce gun violence among young people in Northern Colorado. A video element of the “It Only Takes A Moment” campaign shows teenagers talking to the camera about mental health and having easy access to firearms.

“I always thought I’d ask for help, but I didn’t. I never thought it would be unlocked, but it was,” the teens say in the video.

Suicide is a leading cause of death among young Coloradans. Between 2009 and 2019, 39 kids in Larimer County died by suicide, nearly half by firearm. According to local law enforcement, over 800 firearms were reported stolen in Larimer County from 2016 to 2019, many of them ending up in the hands of kids.

The “It Only Takes A Moment” campaign builds on earlier messaging by the Larimer County Juvenile Gun Safety Coalition focused on reducing all types of youth gun violence by encouraging responsible gun ownership, not legislation.

“To get law enforcement involved was difficult but once they understood our mission that it wasn’t anti-gun but safe, responsible gun ownership, they were all on board,” said Emily Humphrey, Larimer County’s director of criminal justice services in an interview last year.

After holding roundtable discussions on youth firearm violence in February, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office released two statewide PSAs encouraging secure storage, modeled on Larimer County’s effort.

The Larimer County Juvenile Gun Safety Coalition is hoping to get these new videos — along with other materials like crisis resources — into schools, particularly as the mental health impacts of the pandemic persist. As part of the same effort, the group has also been holding seminars for kids who are involved in the criminal justice system about the impacts of gun violence on Northern Colorado communities.

As KUNC's Senior Editor and Reporter, my job is to find out what’s important to northern Colorado residents and why. I seek to create a deeper sense of urgency and understanding around these issues through in-depth, character driven daily reporting and series work.
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