Roughly two-thirds of all so-called gun deaths are suicide. If you reduce those and do nothing else, you save tens of thousands of lives each and every year and reduce the arguments for the anti-gunners among us.
There. That’s the political side of why we should talk about mental health.
But there’s another side that feels a lot more personal to me right now. You see, my feed on Facebook is filled with remembrances of a friend who, for whatever reason, decided to take his own life.
I don’t know why. No one does.
What I know is that in all my recent interactions with him, he seemed fine. Clearly, he wasn’t.
In this nation, there’s one suicide every 11 minutes, according to the CDC. Of interest to what we discuss here, nearly 53 percent of those are with a firearm.
That leaves 47 percent that aren’t, but does anyone feel better because their loved one took their own life with something other than a gun? Does it help the family rest easier? I can’t imagine how.
So this isn’t about politics. It’s arguably not about guns, either.
This is about people. It’s about good people who, for some reason, think there’s no way out of their suffering except to end their life.
So much unrealized potential in the young people who follow this path; so much lost wisdom in the older who do.
At the heart of the problem, though, is mental health. We do not talk enough about it. We don’t delve deeply enough into the discussion. There’s still a taboo among many who think we should keep this clamped down and not talk to anyone about what’s going on in our life.
I’ve had people tell me it’s all on me to keep anything but the norm clamped down, not share it with people.
And that’s killer advice, and I don’t mean that in the slang sense of the term.
Humans are social creatures. We need interaction. How much may vary – the whole introvert versus extrovert thing – but we all need a certain amount of it for our mental health. So a year or two of lockdowns sure didn’t help much of anything.
Yet, this isn’t about that. Lockdowns are over. We have been locked down here for a good long time.
People are still hurting, though. They’re hurting because that’s just part of being human.
However, we still have that taboo. Look at our discussion of gun rights as an example. “We don’t want mentally ill people having guns,” someone will say. Another might quip, “Well, yeah, they were a danger. They were mentally ill.”
Not all mental illnesses are created equal. We all know this, too. Yet all who suffer from mental illness actually suffer from it.
We all need to re-evaluate how we talk about it, both within the context of political discussions and the context of our normal, everyday lives. We need to stop treating people suffering from mental illness as dangerous and start treating them like the friends, family, and neighbors they are.
They are sick, and like people suffering from any illness, they deserve our empathy and support and our help to get them the medical assistance they need.
Anything less doesn’t just lead to more control by the government; it is a shirking of our responsibilities as people to care for our fellow man.
If you or anyone else is considering taking your life, please dial 988 and talk to someone instead. I’m begging you. I don’t want to ever hear of someone taking their own life again.