Many years ago, when I was but a teenager, I lost my first boyfriend to suicide. He shot and killed himself with his brother-in-law’s gun. I believe he was a police officer, and he had left it in his apartment when he was out shopping with his then nine-year-old son. They came home to find a horrific scene. I hate to think of how that must have scarred that young boy.

My boyfriend was a troubled soul, and the year we were together was a roller-coaster of good and bad times. I broke up with him, left him, and shortly after that, he ended his life. He was only 24 years old.

I was too young to live through such a tragedy. That started me on a long path of guilty self-destructive behavior. To this day, I carry those scars. Gun violence has a ripple effect. Gun laws save lives.


My grandparents raised me from the time I was five. Six years ago, I had just graduated and was about to start my freshman year. I walked outside to get something out of my car and saw my grandfather shoot himself. It didn’t kill him immediately, but he fell down and just kept saying, “Just let me die.” He died an hour later. He never left a note; we never knew a reason.

I ended up dropping out of school before I even started and staying home to help my grandmother raise my sisters. It’s taken years to feel peace. Even in the last few months, I’ve been finding more signs in the months leading to his death. I can’t help but continue to feel guilt in thinking that I could have changed the outcome, had I known the signs.

This last year, I’ve had this unrelenting feeling that there is a reason I’ve gone through the pain I have, and I want to find a way to help others overcome their trials. To know that it gets better. I want to help people get through the tough times and be a change.

Sarah Martin

In early September 2008, I received a call from my mother, telling me that her brother Thomas had entered the woods near his home with a gun and shot himself. He was being airlifted to his local hospital. My mother was headed to the hospital for support and to assist in making medical decisions. He so severely injured himself that the family decided to remove him from life support. He is no longer with us. A beloved friend, father and uncle, he is missed fiercely.

I will never forget that day. I carry the pain of this loss for not only myself but my family, as I volunteer with Moms Demand Action.


My husband, the father of our two sons, took his own life with a gun after experiencing an allergic reaction to a medicine for bipolar depression. It was a Friday night, and neither the doctor who prescribed the medicine, nor his father who was a doctor, would return his call for help. If only there were cell phones then. As long as I am alive, he will be remembered with love.


Three families, linked together by our sons. From grade school into college we enjoyed times together – Packer games, weekends at the Wisconsin Dells, New Year’s Eve parties.

It was an exciting time for our three boys. They all went away to college. It was spring, with freshman finals coming up; they were planning their first summer since being independent at school.

It was all shattered in an instant. Brandon, the younger brother of my son’s friend, who had always been a part of their guy group, died by gun suicide. How could this be? His family had always been involved with hunting and focused on safety. They practiced safe gun storage. Yes, Brandon had a history of attempting suicide and was getting help; those other attempts failed. The gun did not fail.

Two months before he would turn 17 – his life ended. The friendships of our families severed.

This year he would have been 21 years old. We celebrate Brandon. Beautiful, silly and happy. His mom would say he was her buddy – her Mini-Me. He was outgoing, funny, caring, big-hearted and loving. He always had lots of energy and nonstop talking.

Gone too soon.

(Brandon is 3rd from the left.)


For years I babysat for some neighbors, two boys and a girl who lived a few houses down. I grew close to the family, especially the daughter, who loved that I have thick, curly hair just like hers. Of course, the kids grew up and didn’t require watching, but we kept in touch. When the girl became a teenager, I was preoccupied with my first full-time job and college. We didn’t speak as often; I didn’t know she was struggling.

When she was 13 and home alone on November 30, she took her own life with one of her parents’ guns. My high-school sweetheart told me the news after my shift. I battled depression for over a year afterwards, wishing I had been a better, stronger teenage role model when I babysat her and that I had been there for her when she needed help. The holidays are always hard now. I had my first child this year; I’m hoping that making the holidays special for her will help distract me more than when I’d try to do holiday things on the weekend with my nephews, in previous years.


“Our daddy is dead.” I cannot forget those words and the heart-stopping gut punch that I felt as my brother told me that my best friend, mentor and rock was no longer. It was not the PTSD from Korea and Vietnam, the diabetes, the loss of his legs, nor the self-medicating with alcohol that ended his life; it was his easy access to a gun in those final moments when he lost all hope. His youngest brother followed a couple of years later, also with that same instrument of death, destruction and loss. Suicide may be an individual choice, but I firmly believe that my dear father and uncle would still be on this earth if not for a gun.

Tanya R

My grandfather was a reserved man; quiet, usually in the background. I didn’t know him well; I don’t have many memories of him. Until Christmas Day, 1985.

I was 9. It wasn’t a banner year for me, as my father had suffered a series of heart attacks and would never leave the hospital, but we had traveled to see the grandparents anyway. I got a set of jacks in my stocking, and I was sitting on the floor playing with them after we’d opened all the presents. My six-foot tall Grandpa sat down, long legs sprawled out, and played with me. It’s seared in my memory, because now I know it was his way of saying goodbye. The next morning, my grandmother wandered the house, wondering where Grandpa was, asking everyone if they’d seen him or if he’d said anything about going anywhere. And then she found him, and I remember the screams and the terror. He’d taken the rifle in the garage, and he’d taken his own life. Depression, alcohol, fear – they changed my grandfather. But the gun – that’s what took his life.

Zoe Moore

My name is Zoe Moore. Dana Harvey was my daughter. When Dana was born, I knew she was special. At eight years of age, she taught herself to speak Arabic. She was always inquisitive. In 1997, I left Dana with her stepfather to finish school. In 2002 she began to visit me; I started noticing something different when she was a teenager. Then, when she was 18, she moved back to San Diego. Her stepfather was no longer able to cope with her, and in 2005, she moved back with me.

Dana began manifesting mental illness. Her illness (schizophrenia, delusional) was full-blown by 2005. I began seeking help for her, but I was limited in what I could do, due to privacy laws. Sometimes her mental illness got so bad that she would run out the door, I would phone the police, and she would be taken to the hospital. As her illness became more intense, and she became suicidal, I tried to warn the authorities. Unfortunately Dana was able to obtain a gun permit, despite her mental illness. She bought a .38 pistol and shot herself in the head on January 10, 2010, at the age of 27.

Kathi Aker

One of my nephews, 24, my beloved only sister, 49, and one of my precious brothers, 64, all killed themselves using guns.

My family had reason to believe that my nephew, Cord, was perhaps experiencing the emergence of schizophrenia due to things he said to his girlfriend and people at work before his death.

My sister, Lisa, was diagnosed with bipolar depression in her late teens and battled her demons all her life, with intermittent intervention from professionals and treatment with medication. Her HMO had just changed her meds, due to cost concerns, before her death.

My brother, Franz, had been forced out of a lifetime of service in the U.S. Navy after 19 years, saving the government pension costs. He was being treated for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but, we learned after his death, he had stopped taking his medication.

I have been suicidal and self-harming and am currently in prolonged remission from severe depression due to strong medical support and proper medication. I believe if I’d had access to a gun, I might not be here.