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Will a photo on a gun stop a Veteran from committing suicide?

If someone was drunk, we take away their car keys.

So if a Veteran is struggling with depression or other stresses, should we ask them to surrender their firearm?

A Wisconsin psychologist says it is one of her biggest challenges among patients and Veterans who relied on their gun for survival while serving.

Now Heidi Sigmund is speaking out about research in suicide attempts showing that the act is spur of the moment and not well planned over time as many previously have thought. 

Among the new revelations; %71 percent of people who attempted suicide and survived said they made the decision in an hour. And that's not all.


"What we have learned from individuals who have attempted suicide and survived is that 24% decided to attempt within five minutes," Sigmund tells CBS 58 News. "That's why we try to get them to distance themselves from the firearm if they can."

But what if you can't convince them?

Sigmund isn't giving up.

"Their firearms are part of their culture," she explained. "It's often difficult in my work to convince my patients to hand over firearms temporarily. So, when they weren't willing to do that, I was asking them to take a photograph wrap it around their firearm."

Cover me Veterans extra from CBS 58 News on Vimeo.

It could be any image of significance to them. It could be a child, a pet, a landscape.

Patients soon began reporting back to her that it was helping.

So Sigmund took it to the next level.

She went to Veterans for help and Marine Corps Sgt. Ryan Badhuin was a huge help.

He took Sigmund to the firing range, where she learned for the first time about guns.

She also began working with a company to develop an adhesive skin that protects the pictures and stay on the gun without affecting the grip.

"When you're deployed, you're with your gun every day," explained Badhuin. "Many Veterans are concealed carry permit holders. They carry a firearm or are a hunter or just like to shoot. You're not going to have them give up their firearms easily. This is just another approach." 

Sigmund says she's hoping to spur great dialogue that will include the Veterans and encourages anybody who is moved by the disproportionate number of suicides among our military to support whatever non-profit that they can that brings purpose to a Veteran's life.

"We would love support for Cover Me Veterans," Sigmund acknowledged. "But really, any organization that's working to increase purpose and meaning for veterans who have been serving us."

For a link to Cover Me Veterans, the non profit formed by Sigmund


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