ECU Health, Bertie County Sheriff’s Office launch suicide prevention program

ECU Health is partnering with a local sheriff’s office to prevent suicide.
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 7:17 PM EST
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BERTIE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - ECU Health is partnering with a local sheriff’s office to prevent suicide.

A simple lock and key can be the start of helping Bertie County residents prevent suicides.

Gun locks are now available for free to anyone in the county, thanks to a partnership with ECU Health and the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office. The entities recently launched a firearm safety and suicide prevention program,

Bertie County Sheriff Tyrone Ruffin was just sworn into his role in December and a program like this is something he didn’t want to pass up.

“It’s not a big problem in Bertie County, but one of the things we want to do is stay ahead of the game so it will not become a problem,” Ruffin said.

ECU Health Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Breanna Culler, says current statistics show, it’s a growing problem.

“Across the state, we’ve seen a rise in gunshot wounds, gun violence and we’ve also seen a rise in suicide rates,” Culler said.

One factor Culler believes may be playing a role in that rise, is the number of guns in households.

“We know that in rural counties and in areas where hunting is a big pastime in Eastern Carolina, those rural communities are more likely to have guns in that home,” Culler said.

Ruffin tells WITN they currently have 75-gun locks and once they run out they’ll get more. If you’re interested in getting one, all you’ve got to do is stop by the Sheriff’s Office.

ECU Health has reached out to other sheriff’s offices in the east to launch the firearm safety and suicide prevention program.

Bertie County is the only one to get back to them so far.