Cliff B.

This story discusses Gun Suicide and Safe Storage

My suicide attempt had to do with 9/11. I was working at the National Guard Bureau back in 2001. On the day the planes hit, my boss actually had come in late. Had he not, I wouldn’t be here today, because I would’ve been right where the plane was.

Early morning of the 12th, we went back down to the site looking for victims of the attack. I didn’t think anything of it. I was just so in the moment of trying to find somebody alive, which we never did, everybody we found was deceased.

I never talked about it. But I started having issues with dreams and just kind of reliving what I went through and really not understanding what that was. I was a social drinker, but it became, you know, having a drink at night to having more drinks at night. I would drink until I would pass out, so I wouldn't remember my dreams. I was going to counseling, but I wasn’t being honest with him. I was very good at checking the boxes, so my therapist could say I was fit to go back to duty.

I used to be the happy-go-lucky guy at work. I wasn’t that person anymore.

I was home in December for Christmas leave. I had gone to training in North Kansas and was staying at my brother’s house. I don’t know what triggered me that night. I just had an overwhelming sense of guilt come over me. I just didn’t want to live with the guilt of not finding anybody alive.

I knew my brother had an old .38 revolver that our father had gotten from a policeman years ago. I don’t even know if he had ammo. But luckily, I just couldn’t find the gun. If I had found it, I definitely wouldn’t be here today. I eventually ended up trying to take my own life another way and surviving.

I tell people now that it may seem kind of silly that I lock my gun up. But when you’re in that state, while you’re trying to find your ammo and unlock the gun, you can get that moment of clarity and say, “I need to pick up the phone and call somebody and ask for help.” That’s the important part. That moment can happen to anyone.

I think sometimes that gets lost in translation. People say, oh, gun locks, gun locks, gun locks, blah, blah, blah, but they don't really relate to the “why”. So, I try to always present that when I do speaking events. And I make sure that there are gun locks and safe locks present to hand out. I also ask that they have counselors available when I do these events, because I am truthful and honest about what I went through, because I think that’s the only way to be.

I want people to think that I’m just a regular guy. That I’ve been through a bunch of crap, and I’ve come out okay. So, maybe I can, too.


The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, text or call 988, or chat at