“Safe Stories” National PSA Campaign Responds to Growing Gun Suicide Epidemic

Recently, the Ad Council and Brady, in partnership with dentsu, launched the newest addition to the life-saving End Family Fire program: “Safe Stories,” a multimedia campaign and immersive digital experience that shares the real stories of seven people who contemplated taking their own life by a firearm. The effort, which is told through a book that doubles as a gun safe, encourages safe storage to prevent a personal moment of crisis from turning into a tragedy.

Unfortunately in America, 66% of gun owners have at least one unlocked firearm, allowing children and others access to them, too often with deadly results. End Family Fire is changing the way gun owners think about and store their firearms, and is the only national program that uses the power of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to bring gun owners into the conversation to reduce preventable firearm deaths. Now in its fifth year, the public education effort has had proven success at changing attitudes and behaviors around gun usage and safe storage.

According to an Ad Council study, 74% of respondents who are aware of End Family Fire’s gun suicide prevention PSAs agree that storing all of their guns locked and unloaded reduces the risk of someone dying by suicide in their home, compared to 56% of those not aware.

“We can’t legislate our way out of America’s gun violence epidemic. As with PSA campaigns and public education efforts on seatbelts and smoking, we must model safer norms and behavior around firearms and their safekeeping,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady. “Data shows that End Family Fire is resonating with gun owners, and the result is countless lives saved.”

The term “family fire” — which refers to a shooting caused by someone having access to a gun from the home when they shouldn’t have it — was created for the public education campaign and has been adopted by media, influencers, public health groups, research institutions, medical professionals, public officials, and more.

The new “Safe Stories” campaign comes as gun suicide rates have reached a record high, with the largest one-year increase in over 40 years and accounting for more than half of all firearm deaths. In the U.S., 67 people a day die by gun suicide, more than those lost to firearm murders and unintentional shootings combined. Access to a firearm also triples the risk of death by suicide, with suicide attempts with a gun being fatal 90% of the time on average. Evidence

shows that in a moment of crisis, having a firearm that is stored securely — locked, unloaded, and away from ammunition — can prevent those fatal outcomes.

“When dentsu was approached to be part of this amazing initiative, we had no end of interested team members willing to give their time and talents in service of lowering the gun suicide rate,” said Angela Johnson, EVP at dentsu. “We embarked on a creative and strategic journey which required terrific empathy, understanding and nuance to capture the stories of survivors. We’re both proud and humbled to see this work out in the world, as it seeks to promote safe storage and reduce suicide by gun.”

Through a combination of documentary-style video production and animation, these “Safe Stories” vividly showcase the life-saving role of safe gun storage. In culmination, the stories live in a virtual “book safe” which features information on safe gun storage methods and resources for those in a moment of crisis.

“The new PSAs feature powerful stories that poignantly illustrate how storing guns safely can save lives,” said Michelle Hillman, Chief Campaign Development Officer, the Ad Council. “We are proud to partner with Brady and dentsu to continue to raise national awareness about the importance of ending family fire and empower gun owners to take steps to prevent gun suicides.”

The PSAs and creative will run across a variety of formats, including out-of-home (OOH), video, digital banners, radio assets, and a digital experience created pro bono by creative and media agency dentsu. To learn more about the campaign and how to promote responsible gun ownership, visit EndFamilyFire.org.

Effectiveness of End Family Fire

End Family Fire’s public education campaigns have proven successful at changing attitudes and behaviors around gun usage and safe storage. According to an Ad Council study of adults living in gun-owning households:

  • 58% of respondents who are aware of the End Family Fire campaign have changed how or where they keep their firearms to store them in a safer manner, compared to 50% of those not aware.
  • 31% of respondents who are aware of the End Family Fire campaign have sought out information about ways to safely store their firearms in the past 12 months, compared to 7% of those not aware.
  • 41% of respondents who are aware of the End Family Fire campaign have talked to friends or family about safe gun storage in the past 12 months, compared to 14% of those not aware.

(Data source: Ad Council online survey of 1,815 U.S. adults who reside in gun-owning households, fielded by Ipsos January 1, 2023-March 31, 2023).

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