More than 40 years ago, I ducked into a phone booth in Istanbul and called my family. I hadn’t seen them in almost a year. We had kept in touch through infrequent letters as I worked odd jobs and traveled in southern Europe and the Middle East. That phone conversation changed the course of my life.
I learned that my brother had shot himself in the head, but had survived. Suicide, however tragic, offers a grim finality. A failed attempt involving a gun injury to the brain carries another kind of death. His extensive paralysis and brain damage destroyed the brother I had known. The years that followed were extremely difficult, as I attempted to find my footing as a young adult. When he died in surgery 12 years later, the grief that had been building for years was overwhelming.
Too many families each year are traumatized by the aftermath of suicide and suicide attempts. Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides. Guns that are properly stored can act as a deterrent to someone in an acute mental health crisis. If you believe you must own a gun, please follow gun safety practices.