September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  Read and share stories to honor survivors whose loved ones died by gun suicide.

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John Owens

On April 15, 2005, I was shot and nearly killed walking into the NBC television affiliate in Detroit, a place where I was once employed. The perpetrator was a young man with a severe mental illness. There was no confrontation, no attempted robbery. He just pulled a firearm out of his pocket and shot me point blank. It was a living nightmare, a nightmare I share with an estimated 200 people who will be shot in America on any given day and a nightmare I share with my family.

My wife was in a store trying on a dress when she got a call from the television station that her husband had been shot. My 13-year-old daughter was excited about a middle school dance that weekend, when her mom came rushing home to tell her what happened. My mother was preparing dinner for all of us in her apartment, a Friday night tradition, when she heard the news that there was a shooting at Channel 4, her worst fears were confirmed minutes later.

When I hear about a shooting, my heart goes out to the families of the victims. I can’t imagine the unbearable grief, but I also think about the survivors and their families. I have some insight into their suffering and the challenges they’ll face for the rest of their life. I have a spinal cord injury. After months of intense physical therapy, I learned to walk short distances, but I have been in some form of pain 24/7 since 2005.

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