I got a call from a friend a few months back asking for a recommendation for a counsellor in our community. Their child was depressed. Suicidal thoughts were mentioned.
I offered a name and my concern. I asked about guns. They had been secured.
Teen suicide in Idaho is a big deal in my opinion. Numbers support my impression. Idaho’s rate of teen suicide is double the national rate. We always, tragically, rank in the top ten for teen suicide.
And guns are a common method.
The spate of mass shootings has spurred many calls for gun regulations. But I have said before and I’ll say again, follow the numbers. If you just got shot and killed in Idaho, it is 13 times more likely that you just shot and killed yourself than you were a victim of someone else.
Making regulations about high-capacity magazines might address some of the mass shootings. But it just takes one bullet to kill your suicidal loved one.
Guns are dangerous, lethal, no doubt. But if your justification for the guns in your home are self-protection, you are not following the numbers. I’ll leave it up to you how you figure out home defense and secure firearms. Readily accessible firearms and volatile, impetuous teens are a deadly combination.
There are more numbers. A recent study showed the risk for teen suicide was four times more likely in a home with guns, than in a home without. They didn’t drill down to the secure storage practices.
When I see teenagers for their sports physicals I ask them about their moods, if they have ever been depressed. Usually, a parent is in the room. It’s worthwhile to discuss. Silence about a common occurrence does not make it less common.
If a family brings a teen to me and the worry is about depression, I investigate. Part of that questioning may address whether there are guns in the home and how they are stored.
It wasn’t long ago an Idaho legislator tried to make such questions illegal. Her bill died with little support. But such a law was passed in Florida. Maybe that’s where she got the idea. It was struck down by a Federal judge as a First Amendment, free speech infringement.
Why do elected officials seem to think they should be passing laws about how I talk with patients? I think I do OK without their advice.
I guess there was some fear that the medical record could be used to “take away our guns”. Believe me, the medical record is used mainly for billing purposes and to defend the practitioner in a lawsuit.
I hope I have convinced you that sometimes guns need to not be accessible. For everyone’s sake.
I can’t think of a law or regulation that would make this commonsense recommendation more valid. I hate it when our elected officials pass laws that are unenforceable, but just make a statement. Such grandstanding makes us cynical about the representative process.
So, I have no proposal to plop before you. I just have a plea.
Know your children.
Listen to their moods, watch their function.
Sometimes you will need to use your judgement.
A parent’s healthy judgement may save a life. So, keep your judgment healthy and accessible. And don’t be afraid to use it to defend the lives of your loved ones.