My grandfather was my hero. As someone who served in our military, to me, he exemplified so many values -- like courage and perseverance – that I really admired. Just around eight years ago, in August, I remember my mom coming into my bedroom and telling me that my grandfather had died. He shot himself with a gun. My grandfather’s death wasn’t something that was inevitable. It wasn’t something that had to happen. In the end, he had access to his firearms when he was in a moment of crisis and the situation ended really, really badly. It came from a place of such pain. And it only led to more pain for us.
Prior to my grandfather's suicide, I didn't really think about gun suicide at all. It wasn't something that was on my radar. I didn't understand that every single day that about 63 people do the exact same thing - and their family, their friends have the same stories that I do. I hope people can internalize this idea that just because something might not happen to them, it doesn't mean it won't happen to their neighbor, to their friend, or to another loved one in their life.
But there are small things that we can do to ensure that this doesn't happen to people in our community. When we check in with our friends and loved ones, we should be asking them if they have a gun, and if they do, is it safely stored? We can normalize the idea that gun safety is important and it’s okay to talk about. Because it’s these little things that start to change the statistics.