Coos County ranks 4th of 36 Oregon counties for gun deaths
COOS BAY, Ore. - Eric Gleason fell into a deep depression after losing his best friend in 1998.
"I didn't know how to speak to anybody, I didn't even know how to talk to my own family about the feelings that I was going through," he said. "I tried to take my own life with a .22 rifle that I had."
Now Gleason is helping others fight suicidal thoughts.
"I learned that it's a very permanent result for a possibly temporary problem," he said.
Gleason could have become a statistic: Coos County ranks fourth among Oregon's 36 counties for gun-related deaths.
Most of those are suicides.
"When you live in a community where we have hunting and fishing and guns are readily available, I think that it makes sense that our percentage of gun suicide is there because the means is there," said Megan Ridle with Coos Health & Wellness.
Ridle said public health officials are working to bring more suicide prevention resources to the community.
"This is happening, let's talk about it, let's move towards prevention, let's make sure we're asking people if they're feeling that way instead of being scared," she said.
"It's OK to discuss these kinds of things with people," Gleason said, "because having an open dialogue with individuals is the only way to actually maybe save someone's life."