Just after midnight on April 24, 2017, 20-year-old Christopher Lee Dreher took his own life.
Growing up, Chris was often recognized as a smart, widely-loved kid. He was someone who related more to adults than his peers -- wise beyond his years, while at the same time, never wanting to grow up. Chris also struggled with anxiety and depression dating all the way back to his infancy. Starting in kindergarten, he met with therapists, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists in any effort to relieve his anxiety, depression, insomnia and suicidal ideations.
Much to the dismay of his parents, Chris also had a unique obsession with guns. He enjoyed target shooting at the range, but was never allowed to keep guns in the house. However, when he started college and moved into his own apartment, this family rule was unenforceable.
Chris’s parents were rightfully concerned that their son’s access to a gun may increase his chances of self-harm. At the time, their home state of Colorado did not have an extreme risk law. Currently active in 17 states and the District of Columbia, extreme risk laws empower law enforcement and family members to work with courts to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others. These laws have the power to prevent firearm suicide and, in the case of Chris Dreher, this law could have saved his life.
Firearms are so dangerous when someone is at risk for suicide because they are among the most lethal suicide attempt methods. Evidence shows that the more time it takes someone to attempt suicide, the more time there is for someone to change their mind about attempting. Because Chris had access to a firearm, he did not have the chance to reconsider this life-ending decision that was made during a period of intense emotion.
Since his death in 2017, Chris’s family -- including his father Mark Dreher (featured below on 60 Minutes) -- have been strong vocal advocates for firearm suicide prevention. As part of their efforts to prevent future gun violence tragedies, they have teamed up with our organization to support our work in the form of charitable contributions.
Please donate today in memory of Chris Dreher and stand with us as we fight to make gun violence rare and abnormal.
If you would like further resources on firearm suicide prevention, please go to our website: https://preventfirearmsuicide.efsgv.org/.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
805 15th Street NW, Suite 410
Washington, DC 20005