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

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Tammy Bailey

In honor of Lewis Daggett

I grew up in a hunting family and was raised with rifles and shotguns in our home. My father was very careful about keeping the guns locked in a gun cabinet when I was small, and I would have never dreamed of trying to access them because he had taught me from an early age that guns were not toys. I understood their purpose as a tool to hunt with; without them, venison would not have been in our freezer and on our table.

My father had heart problems from the age of 49 and had survived two bypass surgeries. At 77, he shot his last deer. At 78, when experiencing more cardiac problems, he agreed to a third bypass surgery, which his body survived, but not his spirit.

He was healing — slowly, but healing — on the day I left him alone to go back to work. Sometime in my absence he decided that he couldn’t hold on any longer. My husband found him shortly after he had gotten out of bed, unlocked the old gun cabinet and placed the barrel of his deer rifle in his mouth.

He lost his life, I lost my father and my kids lost their innocence that day.

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