I was a gun owner.
After giving birth, I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression and became violently suicidal. I was given antidepressants but never once asked if I had access to a firearm. At three months postpartum, I decided to end my life. I took my Smith & Wesson 9 mm pistol and held it to my temple, then underneath my chin. I found an extra box of ammunition on the top shelf of our closet and searched for hours through every dresser, junk drawer and garage shelf for either one of the two magazines. I never found either. I overdosed on sertraline (antidepressant) to stop my brain function but wasn’t successful.
Firearm suicide is uniquely lethal, and I’m alive today because I couldn’t find a magazine. Access to guns increases the risk of suicide by three times, and the inextricable linkage between perinatal suicide and firearm access needs to be addressed in gun violence prevention campaigns and the medical community. After stabilizing my PPD, I started volunteering with Moms Demand Action and the Be SMART campaign. Gun violence is a women’s issue, and suicide is the second leading cause of perinatal death. Access to guns needs to be part of post-birth discussion.