My dad legally owned guns my whole life. He also suffered from undiagnosed mental illness. As a teenager I knew this was a dangerous combination, but we had no family for me to confide in. I was always fearful he would hurt himself, but I never knew who to turn to for help.
After he got laid off, and after the layoff became permanent and he realized he couldn’t afford to retire, he fell into a deep depression. I tried to get him counseling and medication, but he felt he was too old and too damaged to be helped.
I came home to a note on my door one day from a police officer and immediately knew it was bad news. When the officers arrived, they told me my dad had gone to his old job early, before anyone arrived, went to the back of the building, and shot himself in the head. He left me a letter saying he always knew this was how it would go for him. Even so, every day since, I wonder if he didn’t have a gun if he would still be here.
I found I couldn’t watch many movies or television for years after because it’s so filled with gun violence, people’s bodies being shown blown apart for shock value. I still avoid shows with guns as much as possible and am still “triggered” every time I read about gun violence. It’s a daily pain all gun violence survivors carry. And it’s literally avoidable.