Most firearm deaths you hear about are the product of gun violence — a homicide on the street or in a home, or a mass shooting that claims multiple lives.

But nationwide, suicide is the cause of more than half of all firearm deaths. In New Jersey, 41% of gun deaths in 2021 (195 out of 475) were suicides, according to CDC data.

Gun suicides reached a record high in 2021, according to national data. The rate recorded its highest one-year increase in four decades.

With the goal of putting more time and space between gun owners and their firearms during times of distress, a multi-media campaign that launched this month features personal stories of those who've been impacted by gun violence, and those whose lives were saved by simply keeping their firearms in a safe, secure place.

"Access to a firearm increases the likelihood of suicide by 300%," Colleen Creighton, director of End Family Fire at Brady, told New Jersey 101.5.

Brady and the Ad Council are behind the new round of messaging, which focuses on safely securing one's gun in some fashion — with a safe, lock box, or trigger lock, for example.

"Yes, they know how to access it. But the mental capacity it would take to find the key, or punch the numbers in the box — that critical time can be when they talk to a family member, or see a photo of a family member or pet," Creighton said.

New Jersey's firearm suicide rate, 1.94 per 100,000 residents, is close to the lowest in the nation. According to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, New Jersey ranks No. 4 in the country for the strength of its gun laws.

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