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Sadly, I have a few stories to tell. Sometimes people don’t believe me when I tell them how many people I know personally who have ended their lives. The number makes me sick to my stomach, but I will share some of the violence that made the biggest difference in how I view guns.

My aunt had four sons, and two were diagnosed with schizophrenia that was genetically passed down from their father’s side. The first one believed that voices in his head were chasing him. My aunt found him in a field after he drove his truck in circles, trying to get away from them. He was slumped over, with a gunshot wound to his head. As a mother, I can only imagine the hell she faced waking up every day after, seeing her son like that. Several years later, his brother was found dead on the steps of a church, suicide note in hand, with a gunshot wound to his head.

When I was in college, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Seattle to meet his best friend. A few weeks later, I learned that his parents found him at their home, with a shotgun wound and a suicide note. I was the one who had to tell my boyfriend that his best friend passed away. That following month was probably one of the hardest times in my life. I was also struggling with the loss of my first cousin at the time.

Years later, I learned that a friend of mine from high school shot and killed her boyfriend, neighbor and then herself.

I could go on, but I think you get an idea of how guns have made a negative impact on my life. In a perfect world there wouldn’t be any, but I know that isn’t realistic. Coping with and understanding the effects of suicide is not something anyone should have to deal with. It will change who you are and have a lasting impact on your life.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.