The news story “Westmoreland County to auction guns, vehicles” addressed auctioning unclaimed guns involved in death investigations, many of which were unclaimed by the families of suicide victims. Of the 55 suicides investigated by the county coroner last year, 34 involved firearms. This is a shocking fact and exemplifies that Westmoreland County is not immune to the tragedy of suicide.
While I understand that it is state law to sell the unclaimed guns, I see this as a unique opportunity for the county government to shine a light on suicide prevention and to use the money generated to turn tragic losses into an opportunity for outreach. The story states that the money generated through the auction will be turned over to the county’s general fund, but does not detail what the funds will be used for.
Simply selling off the guns and not addressing the underlying cause as to why they are in police hands in the first place is missing out on a crucial opportunity to educate the public and potentially prevent future tragedy by supporting suicide prevention programs and organizations within the county.
The writer is a student at Seton Hill University.