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Royal Oak Pushes for Suicide Prevention In Wake of Gun Range Tragedies

City officials look for ways to reduce the risks in Royal Oak.

The Royal Oak City Commission is seeking a comprehensive suicide prevention initiative in the wake of recent tragedies at a Woodward Avenue shooting range.

In the past five months, two people have committed suicide, and third person attempted suicide, at Target Sports, a Royal Oak shooting range and gun shop.

On Monday night, commissioners directed city staff to work with Target Sports to come up with self-regulation measures and to look at ordinances that would reduce the risk of further suicides or attempts in the future.

Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue stated Target Sports owner Ray Jihad is very open to any suggestions city officials might have. Jihad's attorney provided commissioners with a letter stating the shooting range has taken the suicides and attempts very hard—both personally and professionally.

O'Donohue has been working with the owner to come up with solutions. 

“(Target Sports) will not rent a gun to an individual that comes in by themselves if they don’t already have a gun in their possession," O'Donohue said. "Every one of the suicides or attempts involved an individual coming in by themself without a gun.”

If a customer comes in alone and wants to rent a gun, they will still be able to, but an employee will accompany him or her.

“There is a state framework in place to regulate shooting ranges,” noted City Attorney Dave Gillam. “They are required under state law to adapt certain standards that they believe are generally accepted within the industry.”

It’s just commonsense, according to Royal Oak resident Sandy Wilkins, who spoke during public comment.

“Commonsense would ask that the operators of public gun ranges self-impose extremely high standards, especially when it comes to safety,” Wilkins said.

‘People are dying waiting for us’

Commissioners also directed staff to work with community partners, such as Beaumont Hospital and Common Ground, to move forward with education and suicide prevention programs.

Commissioner Peggy Goodwin offered the following statistics:

  • In the U.S., suicide is the 10th leading cause of death. 
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people.
  • Approximately 50 percent of suicides are committed with firearms. In fact, more suicides are committed with firearms than homicides.
  • Approximately 90 percent of suicide victims have a diagnosable illness at the time of their death.

"I ask that we do something—that we act, but that we also talk," Goodwin said. 

Goodwin recognized Farmington Hills as an example of a community that is “doing something.”

In 2010, a Suicide Prevention Task Force was formed in Farmington Hills after city council members became alarmed after receiving reports about 13 young people who threatened or attempted suicide in one month.

Dr. Ken Massey, a Farmington Hills City Council member, spoke during public comment Monday.

"There is something as electeds that we can do about this trend, and we need to act," Massey said. "People are dying waiting for us to do it."

There was consensus at City Hall to look at what other communities have done, and to find ways to open up suicide prevention dialog in Royal Oak.

“It’s our responsibility to protect our residents and protect our businesses," said Mayor Jim Ellison.

City Manager Don Johnson will direct staff to work on the issue and will provide an update in March.

Crisis support

If you or a loved one is in need of crisis counseling, you are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or visit www.SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

K.M. February 05, 2013 at 04:13 PM
What a waste of time. Although, a noble goal, the city never accomplished anything with the heroin epidemic the city still experiences. people die from that, too. One can find another heroin overdose in the police log, all the time. The city intitiated a "blue ribbon" task force called Save Our Youth in response. That task foce accomplished zero. Matter of fact, I know a few individuals who quit the task force because it wasn't accomplishing anything. The city commission needs to stick to the basics and provide core city services. Master public safety, keeping our roads maintained and plowed, and cutting the park grass before solving all the world's problems.
Col. Duke Lacrosse February 05, 2013 at 05:01 PM
K.M. gets it exactly right. Target Sports has its own problems every time someone comes in and splatters their brains all over their range. They have to shut down the range, get professional cleanup crews in, and deal with all the negative stigma that effects their business. It is bad for business. It's a self-correcting problem. Concentrate on running the city Goodwin.
48067 February 05, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Target Sports is a federally licensed gun dealer. The city cannot rescind their license even if they wanted to.
Zippo February 05, 2013 at 07:13 PM
I agree. The city needs to focus on providing the basics. Instead, they spend more time on social issues like a human rights ordinance, suicide prevention, and heroin addiction. You can walk down my street and ticket 6 of the 60 houses on my street for not shoveling their snow. I bent a rim driving on the Stephenson Highway service drive last Friday. Instead, these guys flap their lips about things they aren't in a position to solve. Leave these issues to the politicians in Lansing and Washington, DC. Concentrate on the basic services that the city should be addressing. Let Common Ground and other social non-profits continue to adress suicide prevention.
John W. February 05, 2013 at 10:42 PM
The only time I went to Target Sports (a few years back) for target practice, I rented a gun and had to show my drivers license.
THEODORE GIBSON February 06, 2013 at 12:50 AM
Zippo, KM, and Duke are right. The Mayor and City Council should just shrug their shoulders, look the other way, and mind their own business.
Lynn February 06, 2013 at 02:10 AM
The city of Royal Oak is hypocritical on preventing suicides. Up until a couple of years ago, the city of Royal Oak appropriated federal block grant funds to support Common Ground which has a suicide prevention hotline program. The city eliminated funding to support this important community service. I'm not sure if funding was restored last year. I highly doubt it. I know this because a family member was involved with Common Ground, but we have since left the area. I wish Royal Oak success in dealing with this issue. Maybe they could start by funding Common Ground, again.
Dr. Nina February 06, 2013 at 05:00 AM
John, Theodore, Zippo and Duke: Glad to know I live in a community with people like you with such a low regard for saving human lives or helping people who may need it. Its pretty clear that Target Sports added a safety policy because they had to once all these incidents were made public. Discussing this and suicide prevention at the Commission meeting was the right thing to do.
Ken Elam February 06, 2013 at 05:25 AM
If Lynn's claim is correct about cutting block grant funding to Common Ground - Sanctuary, you must be really proud to live in a city that pulled funding to the organization that is best equipped to deal with suicide and suicide prevention.
B A February 06, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Didn't realize cutting Royal Oaks grass is more important then saving people's lives. I had a really dear friend that was one of the few that passed because of this once relaxed gun giveaway. If this was in place, I guarantee my friend would still be here today. All insensitive jerks with your political "all knowing" attitude. If this happened to someone you were close to...I'm sure your opinion on the "WORLD'S PROBLEMS" would change. In fact it's people like you that are the world's problems.
Jen February 06, 2013 at 01:08 PM
What an insensitive comment. I can't believe you live in a city where people are DYING inside of a local business at an alarming rate, yet ALL you care about is your stupid street being plowed and the grass being cut. Not only are these deaths inside this business effecting loved ones of those who passed away, but it is also making Royal Oak look bad for not trying to correct this problem. It's funny how people will run their mouths about something that doesn't effect them, but I wonder how you would feel if one of your friends or relatives committed suicide there?
The Duke of Royal Oak February 06, 2013 at 07:32 PM
I agree, this is not an issue for the city commission. The city commission needs to stop MICRO MANAGING business's and get on with the CITY'S BUSINESS. This is just grand standing by some commissioners looking for a feather in their personal cap.
The Duke of Royal Oak February 06, 2013 at 07:37 PM
What are the statistics on alcohol and suicide? Perhaps the city commissioners can take that issue on, especially with the high amount of alcohol establishments that the city commission approved! Throw in domestic abuse and child abuse to the alcohol establishments too!
Nancy Barnett February 07, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Suicide Prevention is everyone's business.!!! One thing we must remember is that Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.!!! Depression is caused by many many factors,such as stress,PTSD, Side effects to certain drugs,Alcohol abuse,just to name a few.Depression is a complex mental condition that results in a chemical imbalance in the brain,and that's all that it really is. The sad thing is that it is often resistant to treatment and subject to relapse.I have heard people say they have tried several different drugs that treat depression and one must try many until they find the right one and then they might get a few good years out of it's use and then they either have to up their dosage or change the drug,due to the human body's ability to become immune to the drug... it becomes a vicious cycle. I count my blessings every day that I don't have to depend on medication in order to function.Depression is debilitating..it ruins you socially, emotionally, financially as well as physically.!!
Col. Duke Lacrosse February 07, 2013 at 12:15 AM
No BA you think because one of your friends killed themselves, you are some kind of authority. Wrong. Goodwin has a job, that basically is serving on a committee to run the city. SHE NEEDS TO STAY IN HER LANE. We send representatives to Lansing and DC to write the laws about bigger issues. You use the "if it saves just one life" excuse to justify more government regulation upon business owners to achieve goals you agree with, but you don't have a clue about what kind of work it takes to run a business. The proprietors of Target Sports already have a giant boot on their throats with federal and state regulations, as well as managing their public reputation. Every suicide at their range is a negative in the realm of public opinion. If micro-manager tyrant Goodwin can further regulate Target Sports, where does she stop? If anyone gets food poison at any Royal Oak restaurant, will she impose further regulations on all the restaurants? Of course she will. She's using this issue to get fools like you to think she has your interests at heart, when really she's just jockeying for a bigger role in the Democrat power structure. Target Sports will minimize their problems on their own, or they will go out of business. Suicidal fools will off themselves no matter what happens; if it proves too difficult at Target Sports, they will jump off a bridge into traffic on I75. It's not "insensitive" to understand this is the truth, it's just realistic.
Col. Duke Lacrosse February 07, 2013 at 02:32 AM
I have a point!!! It's important!!! Vicious cycle!!!!
Mark Itall February 07, 2013 at 04:00 AM
Zippo, You can't ticket anyone for not removing snow in RO, no ordinance.
Mark Itall February 07, 2013 at 04:07 AM
Duke, Not liking Goodwin's actions is your choice, but "really she's just jockeying for a bigger role in the Democrat power structure" is pure drivel. You obviously don't know her at all.

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