Originally posted on September 11 2016 – FOU Facebook page.
So this week we had ‘R U Okay’ day, a National suicide prevention strategy organised by a charity of the same name, and it got me thinking: There is still such a stigma on mental health despite our current ‘enlightened’ society, and combined with the stigma on firearm owners, are there firearm owners out there who are concerned that seeking help for any kind of mental health issue, be it depression, anxiety, stress, or anything else, may lead to them losing their firearms and/or license?
Are there firearm owners out there who when asked ‘Are you okay’ their answer should have been ‘No’?
Now I’m not suggesting that anyone who does need help are going to go and shoot themselves or anyone else, or commit any other sort of violent act. That is the path of stigma and ignorance. But I am suggesting that these people are more likely to face increased health problems, relationship troubles, increased difficulties in social interactions, and other less tangible yet equally destructive outcomes. All because they felt they could not open up to anyone for just an ear to bend or a shoulder to cry on, just to help put their mind at ease. Life is plenty hard already, and when we find ourselves faced with extra challenges or burdens, just talking it out can make the world of difference.
But I am also concerned that this is a conversation that we as firearm owners NEED to have, but are also in a way unable. Even in writing this article I am concerned that the anti gun lobby will pounce on this piece to try and turn it against firearm owners.
This would be extraordinarily detrimental to those who are in the position of needing help but afraid to ask. But I doubt the anti gun lobby would care. Quite frankly, I think the anti gun lobby would dance for joy if anything violent were to happen because of this situation. Perhaps if the anti gun lobby was not so agenda driven and narrow minded, and was genuinely concerned about reducing violence, not just the number of guns in the world, this would be a much easier discussion to have.
But I also think that we as Law abiding firearm owners and firearm activists carry some of the blame as well, so quick are we to lay the blame for any sort of gun crime on the generic ‘mental health’ issue. That we are usually correct in this doesn’t change the fact that it still builds the stigma around mental health issues. Maybe we need to look at how we discuss these points, or maybe we need to stop looking at the mental health of the individual and push for improvements in the mental health system and try to end the stigma. Who can really say for sure?
I’ll end with this: To any firearm owner who is feeling that the pressures of life are getting out of control or a bit much to handle, if you NEED someone to talk to, there are people out there who are ready and willing to listen and to help. If you are in the situation where you feel that you with your firearms pose a risk to yourself or others, please take them for storage with your local firearms dealer and seek help. There is no shame in asking for help! And to all other firearm owners, I ask that you take the time to check in on your mates, shooters or not, and let them know that you have an ear and a shoulder there for them.
Image credit: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/108297566012212891/