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Mental Health Advocates Back ‘Red Flag’ Law To Stem Rise In Teen Suicides

Roughly 12.5 percent of Texas high school students report having attempted suicide. Greg Hansch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness says an attempt is more likely to succeed when a teen has access to a gun.

In the wake of the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School back in May, Texas lawmakers have considered a “red flag law.” Such a law would allow local officials to take away a person’s guns, if a judge decides the gun owner presents a danger. Some mental health advocates think this could reduce the state’s dramatic rise in teen suicides.

At a recent hearing on red flag laws, Greg Hansch with the National Alliance on Mental Illness cited a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), showing that one out of eight Texas high school students, or 12.5 percent, has reported a suicide attempt. The national average is 7 percent.

Hansch said easy access to guns means those attempts are more likely to succeed. “What we know about access to firearms as it relates to suicides is that most people who attempt suicide do not die, unless they use a gun.”

Family members are often the first to notice when someone shows the warning signs of a suicide attempt. Under Texas law, Hansch said, they have limited power to restrict a loved one’s access to guns, but a red flag law could change that.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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