total hearts received for Moments That Survive

Joel Kaskinen


In July 2020, I became a survivor of both gun violence and suicide loss when a student of mine died by firearm suicide. His death was public and gruesome. I was there. It’s painfully seared in my memory.

Trained in first aid and confident in my skills, I got to work, knowing that nothing I did would bring my student back to life. I stared at the gun lying on the ground next to us, pointed in our direction, terrified that it would go off again.

This student was a stranger to me. I know him only as a ghost, but I feel close to him in a way that I can’t quite explain. A closeness I know I will never feel with anyone else.

I’m grateful to Alex because he’s the reason I now work in suicide prevention and volunteer with Moms Demand Action. He’s the reason I found my purpose, my voice and my passion.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.