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Rep. Steve Eliason couldn't bear to attend another "preventable" funeral.

He's gone to two in the past three years — each time burying a young man who killed himself with a gun.

"That's far too common," Eliason said.

Losing the two men, though — one a relative — served as a personal catalyst for Eliason, R-Sandy, who drafted 2014 legislation, HB134, to prevent similar suicides. He unveiled a portion of the result, Utah's Suicide Prevention Plan, at a news conference Thursday.

Eliason called suicide a "public health issue" for Utah, where it is the eighth leading cause of death for the general population and the leading cause of death for 10- to 17-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 500 people died by suicide in the state in 2014, 10 times the number of Utah homicides, a statistic Eliason's "not proud of."

His initiative is primarily an awareness campaign, with videos and pamphlets encouraging people to lock their firearms and watch for signs of potentially self-harmful behavior in loved ones, backed by a coalition of unlikely partners, including Second Amendment advocates, gun lobbyists and health officials.

Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, initially worried when Eliason approached him because the gun advocate thought the plan might have a "clandestine hidden agenda for gun control." But Aposhian realized it was the "most rational and reasonable approach that doesn't rely on law enforcement and doesn't rely on a new mandate."

The idea, Aposhian said, is for family and friends to watch out for one other. If someone sees warning signs of suicidal behavior, such as depressive moods or extreme isolation, Aposhian said they should ask the "awkward" question: "Can I baby-sit your gun for a while?" The hope is that removing the firearm — the leading method of suicide in the U.S. — from that person's living space will thwart any plans for self-harm.

Most suicide decisions occur in a 10-minute window, Eliason said, in which a person resolves to harm himself or herself and then carries out the act. Having a friend store a gun or placing it in a storage facility may make it more difficult to carry out the act.

"It's just like holding on to the keys of a drunk driver," he said, "and offering to give them a ride until that period passes and they are safe to have their car keys again."

Though there is a possibility of other means of self-harm, Eliason said, those are often less effective in causing death.

If it's not possible to limit or remove access, locking firearms is another recommended method outlined in the initiative. Under HB134, the state purchased about $10,000 worth of gun locks — coincidentally distributed by a company based in Newtown, Conn., where the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School occurred — to distribute this year. People can get one for free at local police stations, health departments and doctor offices across the state.

In accompanying the other awareness components of the plan, the Utah Department of Public Safety will require all concealed-carry-permit applicants to watch a 5-minute presentation on suicide prevention, starting this month. Bruce James, a permit-class instructor, touted the new addition, noting that if it saves one life, it's worth it.

"This is a situation that could happen to anyone, despite religion, status in the community or wealth," he said. "... Nothing puts you above depression and suicidal thoughts."

Though the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health is a partner in the plan, little of the conversation Thursday focused on seeking medical care or treatment for depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. The prevention plan focuses mainly on limiting firearm access to potentially at-risk people while maintaining gun rights.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts can call the statewide crisis line at 801-587-3000.

Twitter: @CourtneyLTanner