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'It's ok not to be ok'

'It's ok not to be ok'

On this week's blog, SACS' own Fraser Lamb gives an important insight into our work on shooting and mental health.

Shooting and Mental Health: ‘It’s ok not to be ok’

By Fraser Lamb, SACS Firearms Licensing Advisor

It is a fact that people will choose to take their own lives. There can be a myriad of reasons for that fateful choice including ill health – mental or physical – or traumatic circumstances that the person feels they cannot overcome.

Research has indicated that a significant proportion of the population will be affected by at least one mental health challenge in their lifetime. So it really is ok not to be ok. It’s just part of being human. And for the shooting community, where there is easy access to firearms, it’s important that we know what to do when we are concerned about the health of a loved one, a friend or a colleague.

SACS met with the representative of the Gamekeepers' Welfare Trust (GWT) and other shooting organisations back in the spring of 2018. One of the principle items for discussion was suicide within the gamekeeping community. In my previous role as the Head of Firearms Licensing at Police Scotland, I was acutely aware of the devastating impact such actions caused.

On behalf of the GWT, I drafted a letter that was then sent to Assistant Chief Constable Orford, the strategic lead for firearms licensing in the UK, highlighting the dichotomy faced by certificate holders when faced by mental health challenges. ‘If I tell someone, they will take my guns away: if I don’t say anything, I still have access to guns but am I a danger to myself or others?’ The letter received a positive reply from ACC Orford, and there was an indication that the forthcoming revision of the Home Office guidance on Firearms Licensing Law would likely include more pragmatic guidance to firearms licensing managers etc. in respect of how to deal with such events.

During September 2018, Helen Benson of the GWT attended the Scottish Firearms Licensing Practitioners’ meeting in Edinburgh where she and I reflected to those there – Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and other shooting organisations – on what had occurred previously. It was agreed by all those present that positive steps should be taken forward to inform those who may be affected, that ‘it is ok to not be ok’. After consulting with SACS, the Police in Scotland issued the following statement on their website. It is helpful.

Work is now ongoing to produce a leaflet, supported by all the agencies and shooting organisations, which will provide further advice on what to do, who to contact and what to think about when either you or someone close to you is not ok.

In the meantime, here are a list of agencies who can provide help and assistance should you feel that either you, or someone close to you, needs advice and someone who can help.

And please remember, whatever is going on in your life, it really is OK not to be OK; genuine help is available for you.

Posted by: / 01 February 2019 at 13:40 / Comment

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