WATERTOWN — Suicide is the leading cause of death among those between the ages 10 and 34, which is a driving statistic that led a local organization and police department to partner and distribute free gun locks on Saturday.
The Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County partnered with the Dexter Police Department for the first time to distribute free gun locks and raise awareness for Suicide Prevention Month. The department is able to obtain the locks for free through the Project ChildSafe, a program that promotes firearms safety and education.
Staffers with the Victims Assistance Center were outside their location, 418 Washington St., until 1 p.m., giving out locks and information on suicide. For those who couldn’t make it to get a lock, they’re encouraged to contact the center, said Jenna Ellinger, a Child Fatality Review Team coordinator.
Ms. Ellinger referenced the stat about how the leading cause of death for those between 10 and 34 is suicide.
“10-year-olds could be getting a hold of these guns and, because they don’t know how to use them, they might accidentally turn them on themselves,” Ms. Ellinger said. “Obviously we don’t know the answer of how many do that because they’re no longer with us to answer those questions.”
Christine E. Kennedy, the Dexter police chief, was at the center on Saturday helping with distribution. She said almost any organization can do the same type of partnership with police and be able to give out free locks.
“The whole point is, whether you have guns in your house or not, your kids might go visit a house that does have guns,” she said, “so you want them to be educated on gun safety, and you would hope that those people have their guns locked up as much as you would lock them up in your own house.”