Support Without Stigma
The year 2020 was one for the record books, we had a worldwide pandemic, an election, and societal unrest. There has been so much division and uncertainty in our country of late. Social media has been used as a weapon to divide, hide the truth, and censor free thought. One thing that hasn’t been talked about nearly enough is mental health! This is a very difficult subject for many of us to talk about. As you read this I want you to think about your own mental health. How are you doing? Do you have any negative thoughts? Do you have a mental health safety plan? If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, let’s chat. This is a safe space for you. Suicide, domestic violence, child abuse, and substance abuse are all up under the unlawful lockdowns. This is the ugly byproduct of the COVID-19. We have to be there for one another. I will be talking about how you can have conversations about mental health in your circles of family and friends.
Unfortunately I’m sure we all have had someone in our lives end their life. For me I lost a coworker back in 2019. Chad was a very talented young man, he was only 21 and had a bright future ahead of him. I remember being on the road for work, we shared a hotel room. I looked out for him like a son. In a dangerous industry we counted on one another. I remember I would wake before him and look over to the bed next to mine as he snored, he looked peaceful. At his funeral, it was an open casket. He looked as if he was just sleeping, he was peaceful. That was a powerful moment for me. Why would he do this? Why was there no one that he felt he could talk to? Why was the only solution to take his own life? Suicide effects everyone. It effects the family, friends, coworkers, and others in our communities. It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
We have to do better at having tough conversations about our mental health. We have to make the uncomfortable be more comfortable. Part of the problem we face is the stigma that comes with mental health issues. We need to make it ok to have issues, it’s how we handle these issues that is the important part. On average we lose 22 veterans to suicide everyday. It’s probably higher than that. The reoccurring theme is the the stigma associated with asking for help in mental health matters. Gun owners are in the same boat, a fear of losing our guns prevents us from seeking the help that we might need. What is important to understand is how the types of media we take in can be detrimental to our mental health. Social media is a behavioral modification empire, it provides ZERO value to our Society and can be used to effect our mental health. It’s important to realize this and to not fall into the trap! In our Society there is a full on assault on our gun rights, this doesn’t equate well for those that need help with their mental health actually feeling like they can ask for help. Typically there is a 5-10 min window for a person in a crisis. If we can be there for them, we can help save them. We have to be able to have these difficult conversations with people in our circles. Many times there will be cries for help. Their behavior may change. We should be paying attention. It could be financial hardships, divorce, job loss, substance abuse, or some other life changing events that can lead someone to spiral out of control. I know it’s hard to keep up with everyone but, it’s important for everyone to know that you are there and available to talk. . People really don’t want to commit suicide but sometimes they feel that is the only solution. We have to be there for them.
Part of my work as an instructor, President of a nonprofit, and a gun rights advocate is I get work on different committees on a state level to help influence a positive out come for gun owners. Currently I am serving on 2 suicide Prevention coalitions. One is focused on meaningful solutions to help the suicide crisis in Oregon and how to protect our gun rights. We do not need another state mandate, we need to partner with Organizations that are already doing the work to save lives. The other coalition is coming up with recommendations for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to implement to help save lives. This is a huge bureaucracy and difficult to maneuver as an advocate. I feel it’s important to be there to help be the voice of reason for Oregon gun owners. I will not support another statute that restricts our rights and doesn’t deal with the root cause of the issue. It’s a balancing act and not fun. I know they do not like my guns, but I’m not giving them up. So I continue this important work. I do it because I want to help save lives.
A couple of things to take into consideration in your life. Be comfortable about talking about your mental health within your circles. Also have a Mental Health Safety Plan. This plan is important especially in a moment of potential of crisis. Your safety plan should include close friends and you should have a way for someone to intervene. Unfortunately under Oregon law, you cannot give your firearms to a friend for safe keeping in a case of mental crisis. This makes it harder to separate you from your firearms in an emergency because of statute. We should be addressing this problem. We have to make it easy for someone to ask for help. If not we will continue to lose people that we care about. Annually across the country there is around 40k lives lost by a firearm, half are suicides. Every life is one too many, but unfortunately politicians use data to confuse the public and implement meaningless legislation. All while hiding behind gates and armed security. The elites have no idea how to actually save lives.
There are 2 organizations that I have Personal experience with. Both are doing are great work Nationally in regards to suicide Prevention. One is Hold My Guns and the other is Walk The Talk America! Both have had similar examples of how a suicide close to their Organization turned into action to save lives. Hold My Guns offers off site storage solutions for firearm owners with a partnered FFL (Federal Firearm Licensee). Gun owners can store their firearms at an off site place if they are ever in crisis. I really like this option, its private, lawful, and a way to save lives. Walk The Talk America is busy trying to end the stigma of mental health. They are doing important work on suicide prevention where Firearms and mental health intersect. They also have free mental health assessments on their website, all safe and confidential. I highly recommend both of these organizations and am encouraged with how the firearm industry is showing leadership on very importance topics.
Lastly your mental health is very important. Be self aware on how you are feeling. It’s ok to be down, it’s how you deal with depression that is important. You do matter, there are people that care about you. You would be missed. We are always available to talk. Empathy and compassion will help make the difference in someones life. Be that lifeline for someone. Until next time, Be safe!!