Oakland County church adds graves for people lost to gun violence, suicide

Outside St. David's Episcopal Church in Southfield, grave markers represent everyone who has died by gunfire in Oakland County this year.

Gray is for a homicide, black symbolizes a suicide, and white is for those under 18.

"We're keeping count, and we're planting these crosses through Jan. 1, 2023, as a visual reminder of this disturbing occurrence," said Fr. Chris Yaw, the rector at the church.

Yaw launched the gun safety exhibit "Let There Be Light" on Sunday. He says death by firearms is the leading cause of death for children in Michigan and in the country.

A Stanford University study found that men who own handguns are eight times as likely to die from gun suicides, while women gun owners are 35 times more likely. 

"Gun violence in Oakland County and in Southfield is rare. But when it happens, it is important for us to have a plan in place. Community partnerships bring community awareness and accountability," said Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren. "We're going to launch a gun buyback program in Oakland County."

The program will be voluntary and offers residents a convenient way to dispose of unwanted firearms. Proponents also say buyback programs help reduce gun violence by removing weapons that could be accessible to children.


If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.