As many know, I have a personal connection to suicide loss which naturally puts me in the mental health awareness field. As a result of the suicide loss, over the last 4 years, I’ve been looking into mental health and gun rights. This is when I found the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention & the Indiana Chapter’s local walks for suicide prevention. That year, I decided to go to the Chesterton, Indiana walk. After speaking with the Indiana Director a few months later, I brought the area’s first Michiana Suicide Prevention Walk. The point of bringing it to Elkhart County was because I found out that Elkhart was about halfway between the two closest walks. So I got to planning and that year, we went to festivals & partnered with local businesses to help fund suicide prevention right here in Michiana. I am now trained in how to talk about suicide & the stigma around mental illness as well as suicide intervention training from ASIST.
So where do my gun rights come into your mental health story, Stephen? Well, as many know I’m a gun rights advocate. I partner with many other 2A Enthusiasts & Professionals, from all over the country for a post dubbed by “Kate” as “#TopDownTuesday” where we post our everyday carry photos up on our social media and invite others to join in. Finally, this year, we’ve found an organization with the help of USCCA, that pieces the two together. That organization is “Hold My Guns”. They partner with local FFL’s to safely secure your firearm(s) while you’re in a time of need or crisis. Depending on your state, it may be illegal for you to simply give your firearm to a friend for safekeeping. Sarah Albrecht, Founder of Hold My Guns says, “we are now able to partner with local FFLs to provide private and discreet storage … while not bringing unwanted attention or consequences (or additional stress) to those who are seeking help.”
- According to the latest verified information, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s latest stats, nationally there were 45,979 suicide deaths in 2020 making suicide the 12th Leading Cause of Death in the US.
- Indiana ranks 27th in the US on deaths by Suicide with 15.02% deaths per 100,000 people which is HIGHER than the national rate of 13.48%.
- Suicide in Indiana is the 12th Leading Cause of Death as well.
- Finally, in 2019, 5 times the amount of people died by suicide than an alcohol-related car accident.
Elkhart County Stats (info provided 5/23/2022):
How many deaths by suicide is Elkhart County up to this year? The answer is 11, the breakdown by age group & cause is below:
Cause of Death
- Gun: 5
- Asphyxiation: 4
- Overdose: 2
- Under 20: 1
- 20-40: 2
- 40-60: 5
- over 60: 3
Our Veterans & First Responders Need Us!
17 veterans die by suicide per day, and in my book, that’s 17 too many. These are men & women that sacrificed their lives to defend our freedom & protect us from our enemies so that we can keep this free country safe. We need to seek out every opportunity to make sure that keeps these veterans alive and well and part of that is through mental health access via the VA. Our first responders go through a similar experience, they’re the ones who have to, unfortunately, see death on a daily basis through auto accidents, suicides, robberies, and drug overdoses. In my opinion, both veterans & first responders are the most at risk because they see it but oftentimes they feel embarrassed that they have to ask for help and then ultimately come to the day where it’s just too much and they decide to make an unfortunate decision, one that no one can take back.
The “Under 30” crowd
I remember going to an Elkhart County Suicide Pr3evention Coalition meeting, and in it, we learned of a person under the age of 8 (I believe they were 6 years old) dying by suicide. That still sticks with me, how does a child under 8 years old even know how to do that? As tragic as that is, suicide is the 2nd largest cause of death in people between the ages of 10 and 24. And the 3rd leading cause of death for people between the ages of 25 & 34. This is NOT okay in my book either.
We’ve done A LOT for mental health over the years, but we haven’t quite done enough yet. One of the most recent accomplishments that are my favorite, is the passage of a suicide prevention hotline phone number. You can now dial “988” if you are ever in a crisis and that will connect you to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. But, Indiana has yet to require 988 to be on all school & university ID’s so that students can know about the number and get help whenever they need it. And there’s no required reporting for school staff to report the suicidal risk to the student’s parent/guardian. Nor is there required education for suicide prevention.
If you would like to attend this year’s AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk please click here to donate or sign-up with our team.
If you’d like to learn more about Hold My Guns or their partners please click here
Elkhart County Suicide Prevention Coalition
Sources: AFSP, USCCA, Veterans Crisis Line, Elkhart County Suicide Prevention Coalition, Hold My Guns, Indiana General Assembly “red flag laws”