ON A SERIOUS NOTE — 47 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you wrote this article, sir. Suicide is a topic of great importance to me, for many reasons. Some of those reasons are because 22 vets off themselves every day, and I’m a vet (two tours of Iraq). Some of those reasons are because I’ve lost comrades (brothers in arms) who couldn’t take it anymore… a bullet, car exhaust, pills… they’re gone. Suicide is the final option when you’re out of options. It’s good to have options. Thank you for this article, sir.

  2. Thank you for providing such clarity on a difficult topic. I own many of your books and wish our national press sought to promote responsible gun ownership, safety, and attitudes instead of the gun hysteria that seems to be so prevalent in the headlines. Sadly, facts do not sell newspapers or airtime.

    Keep up hte good work, we need you, and more like you!

  3. Mas, thanks for a great column. What about the close relative or friend who has a painful, terminal cancer and only about a week to live, who wants you to give him a firearm with which to humanely end his life? About 12 years ago I declined to supply such a someone with a weapon. He went on to have what I thought was a very tolerable Hospice, with the chance to see many friends and relatives who came to see him, before he was morphined into the transition into the next world by thankfully dedicated nurses. One peace officer that I later consulted said that I would not have been prosecuted. Prosecution was not at that time an emotionally important factor to me, but definitely a practical consideration. I also had hope that the patient might have a miraculous recovery, which proved to be an unreasonable expectation.

  4. Two-Gun Steve, that’s the kind of knotty problem that lies under the surface of this issue. I’m glad you didn’t get in trouble. But, suppose that patient did use the gun you lent him for an express checkout. Further suppose that he had a starry-eyed relative who believed in miracles and decided you took advantage of his weakened state and facilitated his suicide. Now, all you’d need would be a publicity-hungry anti-gun prosecutor, and the scene would be set for you to be charged as an accessory.

    In addition to the assisted suicide issues, it has been pointed out that universal background checks would be an impediment to someone like you or me holding the potentially suicidal person’s guns for a while, with his agreement.

  5. Great article, Mas.

    I had my own experience with possible suicide:
    I had been handling the affairs of my father for several years. My mother had passed away about 6 years earlier from cancer. He was living in his condo by himself and we had cleaning ladies that would stop in once a week and do cleaning, laundry etc. Because of the high cost of his prescriptions I decided to get him signed up with the VA. Because I needed his discharge papers from the Navy, I had to go through all his papers to find them. In amongst his jumbled up papers I found a life insurance flier that you might get in the mail, bulk rate. I found a paragraph in the solicitation that he had underlined dealing with suicide.
    I decided to take his 2 guns home with me. I explained to him that it wasn’t a good idea to have them lying around with people coming around. Eventually we had to move him to an assisted living facility and eventually to a nursing home. He passed away there, from a disease that is not supposed to be genetic. At least I hope so.
    Both guns are .22rf. One gun is a collector’s item: a S&W escort. I had been with him when he bought it and had fired it. Later his grandson stole it (my nephew) and took it to school for show and tell. This was high school. He got caught with it and eventually my father got it back. Once I got it, I took it out back of the house to check it out and found out that the firing pin was broke. Apparently, those kids had dry fired it so much that the pin had broke. I contacted S&W and they had sold all of the parts to Numrich where I was able to get a new pin, fixed it, and get it working again. The other gun was in working condition and is a SNS. The bullets tumble 20 feet from the muzzle, but it is still deadly. I checked with Brownells about getting a drill and barrel liner but the cost would exceed its value but it is fine with CCI shotshells.
    I also had a nephew by marriage that possibly committed suicide by cop. He was at a party and after a serious altercation, left, went home, and got his Ruger Blackhawk .44 came back to the party and killed a man. My nephew took off on foot and when apprehended by the police would not put the gun down. Afterwards, it was found that his gun was empty. Suicide by cop, maybe.

  6. Mas, early in my career, an “old head” who was finishing out his career as a desk officer after surviving a heart attack, was called at home (off duty) by a neighbor’s frantic wife who knew he was a police officer. The wife told him her husband was threatening to commit suicide, could he please come to their home and remove all the guns. The officer called for on-duty personnel and proceeded to the home, found that the suicidal person had left temporarily. At the wife’s request he made several trips to transfer all weapons to his own home. Upon completing the last trip, the officer collapsed on the floor in his own living room, dying of a heart attack from the exertion. After much resistance, city management finally relented, allowing his death to be considered duty related, allowing for enhanced benefits for his family. The department awarded him a life saving bar posthumously.

  7. Mas, great job on that column. As a former VFD type, I dealt with a number of suicides in North Florida, and they were probably 2/3 gun related. I heard a lot of “If only” comments. Programs like this should be publicized nationwide, and we ALL need to pay more attention. Thank you, and I’m linking this one.

  8. Thanks for writing this excellent article Mas.
    Please post on your Facebook page so it can get out to a wider audience.

    Happy Fathers Day !!!

  9. “They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice… that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    “The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)

    I happen to subscribe to the above sentiments. I feel that a suicide can be a noble act and also the ultimate way of regaining control over a life by ending it. I know that this is not a popular view, but if survival was the all-important goal that we often make it to be… we’d all be losers in this rigged game since no one has made it out alive yet. Personally, I’m more interested in doing the right thing and living an interesting life than going home after every shift at all costs (I’m in private security so the risks aren’t usually that high, but too many co-workers seem obsessed with personal safety in what should be a rather selfless profession).
    And while we were all born and will all die without being given a say in those events, we at least have the option of potentially choosing when to check out. And options can only be a good thing.

    A lot of great insights in this tactful and thoughtful article by Mas. It’s not easy topic, especially when it comes to assisted suicide and its ethical and legal ramifications. I’m not sure I want to go longer and deeper on this, however, even under an assumed name. Too many words can help characterize one as unfit to own a gun in our ever growing nanny state.

  10. Many thanks, Mas. Dennis, amazing story. Just like a Twilight Zone. Alonso Gomez, have you read Plato’s Phaedo, regarding the end of Socrates, IIRC? Harold, U R right! Russ, all I can say is that good, steady therapy should prevent every one of those veterans’ hara kiris. Randy, everybody thanks for a great panel.

  11. Mas, slightly revised version of my Opinion of firearms assisted suicide

    • Paul Edwards Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    June 20th, 2015

    While I don’t agree with ObamabCare that Medical care should be denied for us Oldster’s, Like Me, who still knew America when it was “The Greatest Country on Earth” (With Liberty, Justice, and Freedom, for ALL), and who have, and who would again, VOTE AGAINST OBAMA’S VIEW OF A “CHANGED” AMERICA, I Don’t believe that the Government has any right to decide when a Citizen can, or should, end his own Life, let alone by what mean’s he/she may have available to do that act.

    As it stands now, you have to throw yourself in front of a Truck, which doesn’t always work, in order for your Insurance to pay off, to your family, or to buy a Junk Saturday Night Special, and pray it does the job, to end your own life, no matter how miserable, or terminal, it maybe, just so the Police won’t seize, and keep a good firearm, which you would rather pass on to your heirs.

    Now, I don’t plan on doing this, in the foreseeable future, so please don’t put my name on some demented, or dangerous, person list, but you did ask for my opinion, and this is it.

  12. You touched a nerve with this one Mas… As a three conflict combat vet, a now retired forensic RN and once a sworn reserve LEO; your commentary about the methods chosen by those who have seen more than their share of death and suffering, struck home. A series of old memories drifted back into focus and made me think. I had an uncle who committed suicide with a pistol when I was maybe five. Maybe someday we can talk about how I ended an impossible situation at Kontum for Trung si Nuc… As you know I still do a monthly uniformed ride with our sector deputy… and we can encounter situations like you describe. Thanks for an article that needed to remind us of what can happen. As I sit retired in a rural area, with many firearms, a loving wife of 42 years and a furball platoon. At the moment, suicide is the furthest thing from my mind, but if “on that day” comes I wonder, as a retired combat soldier, cop and RN whether if it will be a medical drug overdose or a favorite big bore pistol? Personally, like Doc Holliday, I prefer to transition in my sleep with my boots off… Thanks for this special article… I appreciate it… Be safe.

  13. Thanks Mas. One of your best pieces. I especially appreciated your depth of understanding, choice of words, and obvious compassion. I’ve been a pastor for more than 25 years and carried a gun legally for as many, and continue to be impressed (and blessed) with your writing. Keep up the good work!

  14. I really was moved by your column. I have family members that attempted suicide and friends whose family members completed suicide. In all of these cases they were dealing with temporary problems. I believe we are our brothers (and sisters) keeper. Yours and your groups efforts to prevent these deaths are awesome. I believe all lives are precious. Thank you

  15. Very good article, Mas. You are about the only gun writer that ever takes on these kinds of topics in a public forum. That is why I have read many of your books. I have sent “Gun Proof Your Children” to my grown daughter and her cousins (all have children). I read “In the Gravest Extreme” (I believe your best) in 1985 precisely because it addressed self-defense related considerations that no one else wrote about back then.

    I know this sounds obvious, but I believe most folks that commit suicide, do so out of hopelessness. They see themselves in a problem with no hope of solution and they are just tired of the pain and anguish. Many of these problems are “temporary” as you stated, but the suicide victim does not see it that way. They need help to bring them to the point where they see their problem as “temporary” and there is hope of resolution. In my opinion, one of the most painful diseases out there is depression. There is definitely pain in depression – it’s just not the kind hurt that we use the word pain to describe. Having no hope is a Biblical description of Hell.

    That being said, I always go back to what my father said to me when I was a boy. He said that suicide is a selfish act. You take the fastest and easiest way out and leave all your friends and family to deal with the grief (and sometimes guilt) of your passing. If you truly love them, then you would not do it. But living in hopelessness turns you inward and you often don’t think of others.

    Your statistics of gun related suicides does not surprise me. When someone wants to end it all, they also want a path that is painless as possible (the medical personnel use the overdose method because they have access to it). Rural folks have access to guns and most people know that a gun’s muzzle in the mouth is the surest way of not bungling the act and ending up a living vegetable. It is instantaneous and I would also assume that it is relatively painless. I can’t think of anything else as painless, short of jumping off a cliff (but that injects terror on the way down).

    You are definitely on the right track considering the “isolation factor”. I read somewhere that many pioneers living on the prairie (with no neighbors) committed suicide because of the loneliness – especially the wives who were left for days/weeks at a time while the husband was out hunting or gone to town for supplies. The tests you can take to “calculate” your longevity of life also use the social factor to make that determination. Statistics show that married folks live longer than singles, as well as folks that have an active social life.

    Your recommendation to assist others by working on a crisis hotline is good. However, doing so places one in constant stressful situations that could/will eventually lead to the crisis hotline worker needing the same help. Therefore, it is not a way to volunteer without some very good training including psychological hardening. Most psychiatrists have their own psychiatrist that they see on a regular basis to unload some of the burden they acquire from their patients. I would think the same thing would be needed for a crisis hotline worker.

    Finally, I would never lend a firearm to anyone like we would lend a garden hose. I am always concerned about the safe handling of any weapon I own and would not release it to anyone that I was not there to supervise. Think how you would feel if your good buddy made a mistake and either hurt themselves or someone else with your gun. Then think about the legal liability these days of releasing a weapon to someone with an unknown level of training. That is a pretty good description of “negligence”. I just don’t do it.

  16. I have read nearly everything you have written, Mr. Ayoob – this is the best. It opens so many avenues of thought of how we can truly make this world a better place. The work all of you do is God’s work – “the side of the angels,” as you are wont to say.

    Thank you, once again, for enlightening us with something that truly can change lives. I feel as Two Gun Steve and Harold do – we need you.

  17. Mas,

    Why not stick to guns and leave the preachy intro to psychology stuff to the liberals. Most of your “advice” was straight out of “Psychology Today” and, in my opinion, had no place in a gun-related article. Most of us in the “been there, done that” generation just learn to suck the bad stuff up, and if we can’t no amount of “counseling” will make any difference. Me, loan one of my guns to someone I don’t know well, who seems despondent – get real! I’ve been around awhile, and delt with some pretty unstable characters, and don’t think I’ve ever seen an “attempt suicide”. The ones that want to do it, do it. The rest are just looking for sympathy. Anyway, after reading the other comments, I realize I’m in the minority here, and definitely not part of the “touchy-freely” generation. Didn’t think you were, either.

  18. Thank you Mas for writing this article. Very Informative and useful for me.
    Have a lovely Father’s Day!

  19. Thank You Mas,

    The article in question is a brave and interesting one that easily meets the expectations I have developed for your written work. I also wish to thank all of you whom have contributed here for taking the time to share your own stories and viewpoints, much obliged!

  20. Thanks for writing this. I’ve felt for a long time that ending ones life is such a personal decision that unless asked, I would not venture there. I am at the age where I’ve watched all the senior family members dwindle away until what was left wasn’t them.
    I don’t know where else to ask Mas. I would hope you will address the anomalies in the SC church shooting. Please. I can’t be the only one that sees them.

  21. From what I understand, it’s very difficult to discern beforehand who might take their life. Polls reveal that almost everyone has experienced ‘thoughts of suicide’ in one form or another at some point in their life… but few go on to kill themselves.

    Counselors are trained to try and see whether the person has a definite plan and means to carry it out, rather than just a vaguely-expressed ‘desire to die’.

    “I feel like killing myself…”

    “Oh? How would you do it?”

    “I don’t know… maybe shoot myself…”

    “Do you have a gun?”


    This would be a case where the person would probably be judged not likely to actually go through with it; though of course you’d continue to follow up and make sure.

    The real danger is when the person does have a specific plan:

    “I feel like killing myself…”

    “Oh? How would you do it?”

    “I’m thinking I’d climb up in the treehouse I built for my kids, and shoot myself in the mouth with the .38 I keep by my bed…”

    This person is much more likely to carry it out.

    But of course, someone who is truly serious about suicide, is not likely to tell anyone… as they know that will result in intervention and prevention.

    Does anyone have the right to take their own life? That’s a good topic for another column.

  22. Good article, Mas. As. Retired clinical psychologist and gun owner, I dealt with issue many times. To be brief, I’ll give two illustrative true stories. First, if you are terminal and in great pain and rationally want to end it all, consider the effect that finding your body with a gun shot will have on someone. The head of a psychiatry dept. I knew with terminal cancer decided to end it by gunshot. He killed himself in a hotel and traumatized some poor young maid who found his body. This was an angry man who had easy access to other means. The other incident was a friend having me pick up the gun he has planned to suicide with from his therapist, who never wanted him to see it again and gave it to me to dispose of as I saw fit. As for preventive advice, you said it all and I commend you for writing the column.

  23. Mas,

    This article is excellent. A very sensitive topic, but one that will just become more prominent as the Baby Boomers continue to age. To young people, I point out that whatever the Baby Boomers do is done in a big way, whether it be buying 45 rpm records, or buying houses. We dominate the market. I tell medical students that the future is geriatrics.

    I’m also glad Mas took the time to point out one of the dangerous aspects of gun ownership. That shows that our side is open to debating the truth, we are not just cheering mindlessly for our Second Amendment rights. We acknowledge that guns have a dark side, and we are not afraid to discuss it.

    Alonzo Gomez,

    I disagree with you, but I am very glad you wrote what you did. You helped the discussion. You are right about the fact that end-of-life issues need to be confronted, and not just hushed up. Personally, I am against active euthanasia, but I am OK with passive euthanasia. Modern medicine is able to keep people alive who would perish without it. I don’t think people need to be hooked up to machines that keep all of their internal organs working. I think people need to be fed, but they don’t need all that extra technology.


    All of life is related. Yes, we usually listen to experts discuss their topics, but sometimes the experts are wrong. Robert McNamara comes to mind as an expert who should not have been listened to during the Viet Nam war. If Mas wants to branch out to other aspects of life, that is a good thing.

    John Millington,

    Mas is a legal expert who is called to testify at trials. He cannot comment on crimes until all the facts are known.

  24. Mas, once again you’ve touched on something important, that isn’t discussed as often as it could be. I know I can resolve problems better, when I have a better understanding of the problem. I think this is true for everyone. Hence, your article is appreciated.

    As you posted, we can’t help everyone, but we can help some. That help also includes families, friends, and others like the hotel maid mentioned above.

    I’ll link your article to share with some friends.

  25. When my daughter was maybe 14 or so one of her good friends took her own life with a shotgun. In her bedroom with the family in the house. As in the above incident, her father was the one to break down the door and find her.

    Imagine that.

    The family didn’t own any firearms, the girl had to borrow it from a male friend who also had to show her how to load it. Apparently he had no idea what she wanted it for, but some questions should have been asked nevertheless.

    This event absolutely devastated not only her family, but all her friends as well. Her friends formed a group that met for a long time afterward for counseling. It was interesting, in an abstract way to watch my daughter’s reaction and how she dealt with this event. She was in turn overcome with grief and angry with her friend for taking her life. She blamed herself for not realizing what her friend was feeling (despite none of her friends realizing there was a potential suicide in the making).

    The number of lives affected by a suicide go far beyond the person who takes their own life and the family. It is imperative that you do anything you can to prevent someone taking this final action.

  26. Excellent article Mas, Well done as always, please continue the good work!

  27. Mas, Kudos for touching upon a subject avoided to the point of being a taboo.
    Bob, It’s attitudes such as yours that make this article so necessary.

  28. @Two-gun Steve: I was not familiar with Phaedo’s account and enjoyed reading what Socrates had to say in his final moments.

    @Old Fezzywig: I know I’m in the minority on the subject (as on many others!) so I am not surprised by disagreement, but I certainly appreciate your respectful way you expressed yours! Thank you.

    @Bob:to paraphrase comedian Bill Burr: “This is how it works with guys: every time you do anything remotely sensitive, heart-warming, anything that’s gonna make you more of a loving, caring individual, immediately all your guy friends suggest that maybe, just maybe, you’re gay! Oh, it’s brutal! (…) It’s the reason why guys drop at 55 out of freaking nowhere. It’s literally from 5 decades of suppressing the urge to, like, hug a puppy, admit a baby’s cute, say you want a cookie… You just keep pushing it down… I’M NOT GAY! I’M NOT GAY!”

    I unfortunately can’t link to a clip or quote him verbatim because of language – hey, you’re right, society’s too soft! – because Burr is much raunchier, funnier… and right.
    He’s on YouTube (Bill Burr – What are you, a F..?”).

    You know, I actually think that conservative gun people pulverizing the stereotype that we’re unfeeling, unthinking, blood-thirsty gun nuts is a Good Thing (TM)! And it’s not surprising that such talk would take place on a blog by Mas when you think of all the flak he’s been taking from macho shoot-to-kill types since In The Gravest Extreme (a book that shaped my thinking, like so many here).

  29. Hi Mas,

    Excellent article with excellent suggestions and ideas. Personally, on two occasions in my life (both involving infidelity), I took the step to unload all my weapons during the first occasion, and on the second occasion had a trusted friend safe-keep my weapons until the tumultuous times had past. I’m sure nothing bad would have happened had I not taken the precautionary steps, but that said, I’m also sure I’m not going to get in a car accident each and every time I buckle my seat belt…

    Always better safe than sorry.

    And everybody lived and that’s a good thing.



  30. I decided to revisit my former post and add a moment of levity to a serious topic. The gun I picked up from my suicidal friend’s therapist was an RG .38 Special, possibly known to some of you. I took it to a Dallas gun shop to sell and handed it to the owner. He took it and looked at it quickly and said it was a POS and the only thing it was good for was maybe blowing your head off. For the life of me I can’t remember if I told him that was why someone had purchased it. I do remember he gave me forty bucks for it, though, with which I purchased ten saplings in my friend’s name in a reforestation project.

  31. The subject of firearm suicide is something that I have no direct experience with. I do, however, have a personal experience that occurred with the suicide of a close friend of mine.

    I met my friend Dave years ago when another of my hobbies intersected with him. My local ham radio club erected a repeater antenna on top of a local water tower. The water utility sent one of their engineers, who was also a ham radio operator, over to ‘ride herd’ on us and see if we knew what we were doing. We welded the mast to the top of the tower and left everything in the same shape it was when we started.

    Dave and I both rode motorcycles, liked cars and camping. My wife and two small sons liked him. The radio club members often went on camping trips, and we went to Canada fishing a couple of times. Dave would come over on Sunday afternoons and we would play sheepshead.

    Then things changed in Dave’s life. He had no children and really didn’t want any. It’s not that he didn’t get along with kids, he just did not want any of his own. His wife did… this eventually led to a separation and beginning divorce proceedings. Dave was depressed, and all of us who were friends with him tried to help in any way we could. His wife further drove him deeper in his depression. In an effort, we assumed, to speed the divorce she described her liaisons with her boyfriend.

    Through all of this we continued to play cards on Sunday afternoons. Dave appeared to be coming out of his funk. Monday night we got a call from a mutual friend telling us that Dave had taken his life on Sunday evening. We were especially devastated, as our visit that afternoon was likely his last contact with our group, we had a feeling of uselessness and pain. What could we have done? Why didn’t we see this coming? Should we have said or done anything different? There is a form of guilt attached with the death of a friend though suicide.

    We learned later that he had the classic signs of a suicide candidate that had resolved to take his life. His problems were resolved and this is relief to the suicide subject. We had no idea… it leaves a hole in your life.

    While Dave didn’t use a firearm, he owned them. He was, in retrospect, a very organized person, sometime taking perfection to funny conclusions. Like the time we painted his truck in his back yard on an early Saturday morning. Lacquer has a very narrow temperature range when sprayed. After I left he decided to add one more layer. That would have gone well if he had changed the type of thinner… he ended up sanding for a week to level the finish.

    Dave killed himself in his camper trailer, spraying ether on a rag, putting that into a trash bag and tying it all around his neck. I was pissed. Saddened and confused.

    The NHFSC’s suicide prevention effort is a tough row to hoe in that education of the general public regarding recognizing the signs of suicides. You and I see the value, but the cynical MSM press will just blame the guns. In Dave’s case, he could have used a firearm, but chose not to burden those he left behind with the ‘mess’ that would have created. Even in the final moments of his life Dave considered others.

    I’m not qualified to do anything other than relate the experience that I had, but I truly hope that anyone who is contemplating suicide see that there are alternatives. And while I don’t condone it, I can see where the end of life decision that some make when faced with terminal disease might make sense to them at the moment, there are always answers that may be solutions to immediate problems. Medical professionals sometimes lead lead insular lives and may not be privy to the latest information. They may well be better informed making a personal decision than a layman’s decision, at least in terminally ill cases, to avoid the possible ‘inevitable end’. That may be in reality a better solution for them and would be more along the lines of ‘assisted suicide’. Thats a whole different situation, but still not a path that I see me going down.

    The rural statistics surprised me a little, but probably shouldn’t have. I have a friend who lives in a rural area. He was an EMT, and his wife and two of his children still are. His wife and daughter are both nurses. There are time delays in the country that I’m certain result in a higher percentage of deaths than may occur in town, but many of the folks that live there, both liberal and conservative in political bent are more likely to be self sufficient and independent regardless of the politics they hold. They would, I believe, be more likely to commit suicide faced with insurmountable health problems because they are independent. They neither want to be beholden to anyone, nor relocate to a ‘home’. This dovetails with the four factors in your article.

    As far as loaning weapons goes, I don’t lend them to anyone unless I know them very well. My knees and feet don’t allow me to hunt like I used to (it’s tough to get old, but it beats the crap out off the alternative), and other activities have filled the void, but when someone outside of my ‘circle’ of hunting friends expressed an interest in hunting with any of us the standard we used was conduct at the range. We would invite them to target shoot and sight in with us. If we didn’t like the conduct that we observed they never got asked out into the field.

  32. Gun Owners of New Hampshire and CeaseFire New Hampshire working together. That is the dream of those who talk about “common sense gun control.” A term I am sure we will hear more, as the election process gets in full swing.

    Organizations like Cease Fire (insert State) or national cease fire/brady groups want to promote idea organizations like the NRA are out of touch with its membership and most gun owners support measures they deem “common sense gun control.”

    Yes, suicides are a problem so are church shooting, racial motivated shootings, accidents involving children, etc. So do we support universal background checks? What then, field investigations where agents interview your neighbors about your mental health and racial viewpoints? How about sign off by your doctor to purchase a gun? I believe Michigan at one point required Doctor sign off for carry permit. Do we support storage laws to keep children from guns? All noble goals and just “common sense” the brady people will claim.

    Yes, I believe “Cease Fire organizations” and the Brady bunch would like all of these measures, but realize they can not get them all at once. Rather they need to get a bit at time and create the impression, that those who oppose these measures are out of touch with the majority of gun owners.

    For me if I am concerned about suicide prevention I will join a suicide prevention organization as an INDIVIDUAL not as a gun owner nor a member of the NRA or other gun rights organization. But be assured once they try to limit my gun rights I will leave.

    I agree with your comments about loaning guns. But I can not remember ever loaning a gun and if I were to do so, it would be to a person I have known well for a long time and was aware why loan was needed. This to me is “common sense” and the last thing I want is more laws telling me under what circumstances I can load a gun. And I do believe that the cease fire/ brady people would like to impose strict regulations with harsh penalties in this area and will say those who oppose do not representation the majority of gun owners, and point to past cooperative efforts to support their contention that this is only “common sense.”

    I believe, it was George Shaw was said, The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Mas, I do not question your intentions but for once I am not sure you have fully considered the potential outcome of working to prevent suicide under the banner of a gun owner or gun rights organization.

    I believe working to prevent suicides under this banner will only be used by the anti gun people to promote their agenda.

  33. I believe this concern is a helpful facet of the pro-gun mindset. When the AMA gets wound up about the “gun violence epidemic,” suicide numbers always get thrown in. A responsible program/elevated awareness of the issue can only help.
    So thanks to Mas for bringing up a shady legal & ethical factor again, and relentlessly, logically addressing it. I’ve read some of his published work since the 70s, and I’ve never been disappointed. He’s a beacon of good sense.
    Personally, the end-of-life issue has shoved its nose under my tentflap in the person of friend or family regularly lately. Yup, I’m a Boomer. I’ve shipped out (“sold”) my steel to a dealer buddy while I took a convalescent, depressed and suicidal friend into my home. I have another buddy who, in the constant pain of undiagnosed MS, talked of suicide openly. Both were ex-cops, with their own tackle. Neither pulled the trigger, and I think talking it out might have helped.
    In a similar vein, I’d offer thanks to the other commenters (even Bob, heh-heh) who each add a little light to the shade.

  34. Many years ago, I learned that it’s important to be cautious of people who have attempted suicide in the past , but seem to be all right now. I had a friend in college who was depressed & attempted suicide by drowning in a very deadly part of a river. He survived & was committed to a mental institution. He seemed to get completely back to normal while he was there. I saw him the day before he was released & he was very happy, laughing & joking. He had a good job lined up & was going home to his parents’ house. The day after he was released, he jumped off a water tower to his death. No one knows why. He came from a supportive upper-middle class family & had everything going for him. I’ve thought about this a lot since then & I can only conclude that he was happy because he knew he would have another chance to kill himself after he was released, but who knows? Maybe he stopped taking his medication after he got out or something else happened. The point is that some people can still be suicidal even when they appear to be happy.

  35. TW, you are right on again. “I never lend my guns” is a useful phrase from a Louis L’Amour novel, where a dubious character asks to handle the main protagonist’s shooting iron, with the obvious intent of rendering the hero defenseless. The phrase also seemed to work effectively and inoffensively for me on one occasion, when someone rudely demanded to “take a look” at my perfect packin’ pistol. This is one situation where carrying a piece heavy enough to use as a club can come in handy, doubling as a hopefully less-than-lethal device. You can always argue that reverence for human life was your motivation when you humanely chose to clobber a suicidally compulsive “grabber” over the head, rather than “smoking” the gender-unspecified individual.

    Attention mental health workers: you can use a therapist as much as anybody. You should not even feel ashamed about feeling ashamed about needing regular help for your own stress. Just get it, and fear not.

  36. Some good points noted here; thanks! Someone planning suicide will often display “calm in the eye of the storm” behavior. His worrisome behavior disappears, and he seems happy and normal, and everyone around him is so relieved that they want to believe the crisis is over and done. As some have experienced here, it should be considered a warning flag: it may mean that he has decided his own problems are over, because he has made the firm commitment to kill himself.

  37. This was a great article. Living out in the country, I can relate to the self-sufficiency mentality. The message was important and needed to be said. I especially thought the “Things to look for” section was very helpful. I bet this article saves a few lives, and that in itself makes worthy of your time in writing it and my time in reading it. The whole article was well-written and well-thought out. Thank you.

  38. Mas excellent thought provoking article. I served as a unpaid volunteer treasurer for about five years of a mental health non profit which ran several area 24 hour suicide prevention telephone hotlines in MA. I am forwarding links to some friends who are grief counselors. I would suggest that people following the blog think about passing it along to people as well.

    Slightly on and off topic as well is the legal temporary or permanent transfer of weapons from a suicide prone relative or friend. My dad lived in assisted living the last five years and I had several of his hand guns including a Luger he received from a surrendering- German general near the end of WW II. His memory had pretty much failed and he kept asking where was his Luger because he wanted it. He was not suicidal but had always had guns for self defense and felt he should still have one but they were not allowed for residents of the assisted living facility.

    Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network’s Attorney Question of the month in the June Journal was on a some what related issue that could apply in this suicide prevention situation with regard to legally securing and maintaining control the guns.

    A very small section of one of the answers below.

    “A gun trust is a purpose-built living trust designed expressly for lawful possession and enjoyment of firearms and accessories. Since design is quite flexible, provisions can and are commonly included that specify what occurs should a trust grantor (client) suffer a legal disability such as a criminal conviction.

    Proper design addresses who can possess, who can enjoy, and who takes over if the client cannot legally possess for any reason, due to criminal incapacity or more commonly legal incapacity due to health, age, illness, etc.”


    Mas I would be interested on your take on the Pros and Cons of the use of gun trusts.

  39. Vin, thanks for your good info. My only advice on gun trusts is, DO IT THROUGH AN ATTORNEY, and make sure it’s an attorney who specializes in that area and knows all the subtle nuances of the process.

  40. It is a good article.

    Part of the dynamic of rural vs urban might not be so gun-related. Even in the suburbs there will be a big-box sporting goods store that sells guns, even on Sunday’s and even into the evening. In a really rural area one might have to drive a distance to buy one.

    One thing about rural areas is if you’re an outsider, then that probably won’t change. If bridges have been burned, they aren’t coming back. Transplants to rural areas aren’t likely to have any local relatives for a support system. If one doesn’t belong to the predominant religious denomination in the community then that can isolate them as well. Americans aren’t joiners like they once were, a lot of people have only their spouse as a true friend.

    It has been about a year since Louis Awerbuck died, did that have something to do with the timing of the article? I saw him lecture on a 1980’s video tape a few months ago, he was in his prime, very sad how it ended.

  41. Jacob, that wasn’t the reason.

    I knew Louis. He was a gentleman and one of the all-time great firearms and tactics instructors. He was a thinker, and a pragmatist. There were health issues, and I think his departure would fall into the category of what some call “rational suicide.”

  42. This column is truly eloquent. While it is easy to say that we believe in upholding the second amendment, taking responsible action to support this belief is more difficult. Antigun physicians point to the at suicide statistics as one reason to ban guns. Your column shows that there are other steps that can be taken that my actually prevent suicide. A person intent on taking their own live would find a way to do it if there were no guns available. Making a meaningful intervention when someone attempts to procure a firearm may actually save their life.
    It is a shame that what you have done in “the backwoods” has not been promulgated in the “big city.”
    We are, indeed, our brother’s keeper in a way that Big Brother government can not be.
    Pro second amendment people, indeed most conservatives, are often portrayed as being heartless and uncaring. Your column shows that we do care….a lot!
    I have forwarded your column to every shrink that I know, and will share it with the medical students that I teach.

    Massad, you have written many great things. This column is the best!

  43. Mas, a very good article. I had a friend that I knew from childhood. We went to school together in rural Tennessee (I’m not called TN_MAN for nothing!). We spent many days in the outdoors hunting, fishing, camping, etc.
    My friend was perfectly normal until he reached the age of the late 30’s. Then, out of the blue, he began to develop a serious mental illness (Paranoid Schizophrenia).
    I had let him borrow a gun (a single barrel shotgun) but when he started to develop mental health issues, I asked for it back. I pretended that I just needed to have it returned but the truth is that I no longer trusted my friend to not hurt himself with it. I could see in his eyes that he knew that I no longer trusted him.
    His mental state continued to deteriorate. He thought that the government was bugging his house. He threatened some teen-age boys because he thought that they had kidnapped his niece. That got him put in jail.
    His family had been trying to get him some help and the incident with the boys expedited it. My friend was given counseling and put on med’s. The med’s were a double-edged sword. When on them, my friend was somewhat better. But, if he went off his med’s, his mental problems re-surfaced with a vengeance.
    My friend tried to commit suicide three times. The first time, he overdosed on sleeping pills. His family rushed him to the hospital and he was saved.
    Then, months later (on a Christmas Eve, of course), he somehow got hold of a large knife (a Ka-bar Marine Corps Bowie with 7 inch blade) and plunged it to the hilt into the center of his breast.
    He was again rushed to the hospital. By the grace of God, the blade just slipped by the edge of his heart and between his lungs. It missed every major organ. The Doctor’s removed it and my friend recovered. He was given more counseling and pills but, ultimately, sent back home.
    I had moved to the big city by then (Nashville) but I still went back home whenever I could and always visited my friend to see how he was doing.
    Then, one day, I received word that my friend had tried again. This time, he took a length of rope and a ladder and hung himself from a stout limb on a tree in his back yard. Sadly, the “third time was the charm” as they say. I served as pallbearer at my friend’s funeral.
    Of the thousands of ills that are visited upon mankind, I think that severe mental illness is among the worst. I guess the point of this story is that, if someone is bound and determined, to harm himself or others, then nothing short of complete incarceration will stop him. Under our current broken health care system, no one wants to do that. It’s much cheaper to just hand out the pills and do a weekly counseling session!

  44. Actually, TN_man, even complete incarceration won’t always stop them. Condolences on the loss of your friend.

  45. Well said Mas.

    We talked about some of this the last time we met. Very informative article that I will share with others, with your permission of course, as I think it could help a few folks. Maybe even myself.