Mental illness
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By Robert B. Young, MD

With all due respect to Henny Youngman, King of the One-Liners, I mean exactly that in certain cases.

We fight hard against any form of confiscation that denies us our natural right to keep and bear arms in self-defense. That includes opposing all the “red flag” laws so far enacted and proposed. None incorporate adequate or timely due process, and all can and will be abused by government and acquaintances to harass innocent subjects. This is already happening, and one man is dead because of it. We don’t and can’t know if anyone anywhere has been save by these.

However, this shouldn’t be our greatest concern, believe it or not. That’s because approximately 2/3 of all shooting deaths for many years have been suicides, while half of all suicides are by gunshot. Shooting is one of the most lethal ways to attempt suicide—85% of these attempts kill, comparable to jumping from heights. When rumination becomes an impulse to act, an available firearm may serve a final, fatal action.

So there is strong reason to try to get guns out of the hands of anyone thinking of suicide. Aside from the dangerous limitations of current “red flag” laws, there is an even bigger problem. There is no way to know if someone is suicidal without knowing them well, or by their trusting someone sufficiently to share their distress.

Most people who are seriously suicidal have a major depressive illness. Some are personality disordered and their suicidal thinking and threats happen in the service of handling stressful experiences.

Occasionally people may have psychotic disorders, with hallucinations telling them they’re worthless and commanding them to remove themselves. Substance abuse raises the risk. But most, no matter what the cause, will show signs of the illness and will indicate their intent to someone in some way. [Note: Rarely, someone communicates a more rational desire to end intolerable, untreatable pain during a terminal illness. This is a very different matter, and not our topic.]

What happens then? Hopefully, they get help. And someone caring removes whatever means by which they are contemplating killing themselves. This may be surprising, but in most cases the distressed individual will appreciate the intervention.

Unless someone already has psychiatric help and shares this, most often families and close friends are the first line of defense. Ideally, they will address the problem in both ways.

But: What if they are in a jurisdiction where “transfer” of a weapon is illegal without all the formalities of a commercial sale? For example, background checks, waiting periods, may-issue determinations, etc.  Or what if the owner is uncomfortable with giving over firearms to whoever is intervening, for whatever reason?

There is an excellent solution to these dilemmas, which can be exercised by willing gun owners who may need temporary protection from their own impulses. Hold My Guns is a new non-profit that is taking on the mission of enlisting gun shops and FFLs nationwide as places to hold firearms for people who shouldn’t have them right now. This can be done either at the individual’s request or, with the owner’s permission, for those who are intervening. This is absolutely voluntary and has no legal implications whatsoever. MUCH better than the government getting involved, which should be the last resort whatever the law prescribes.

While there is nothing new under the sun, Hold My Guns is the first attempt to develop a national network of collaborating FFLs who can be identified at need anywhere. Check out their brochure here. Smaller projects have been in progress in Vermont, Colorado and Washington State with encouraging results.

There is now empirical data supporting the need for this. Just published in Annals of Internal Medicine“Firearm Storage Maps: A Pragmatic Approach to Reduce Firearms Suicide” appeared January 21. Authors Kelly, Brandspigel, Polzer and Betz are from the University of Colorado Schools of Medicine and Public Health. They discovered that there are lots of requests as it is for temporary firearms storage out of the home throughout the Mountain West; about half of all retailers and 2/3 of law enforcement agencies “reported having received storage requests in the past year.” There is no reason to think these calls for help would be not occur as often anywhere else in the country.

The outcome of that finding was the creation, in conjunction with the Colorado Firearms Safety Coalition, of an “[o]nline map of Colorado locations willing to consider voluntary, temporary firearm storage.” 39 retailers and 17 law enforcement agencies have so far agreed to be listed. Any Coloradan can now use the map to find a place nearby that will help.

This work is a true and appropriate public health approach to saving lives at risk from misuse of firearms. In that way, it is comparable to a growing number of urban programs that are trying to identify the individuals most at risk of either committing or becoming the victims of murder. (They are one and the same.) These sorts of interventions focus where they should—on the people at risk, trying to reduce the misuse of weapons and save lives, rather than blaming and imposing on the vast millions of Americans who live quite safely, thank you, with dangerous tools of all kinds at hand, including guns.

Many thanks to Sarah Joy Albrecht, founder and president of Hold My Guns for alerting DRGO to their plan to create nationwide access to urgent safekeeping of firearms for anyone who needs it. She’s at SHOT Show in Las Vegas this week, and would welcome your visiting!


DRGO Editor Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. Alright, TTAG. This is enough. I just spent a long while writing an entire sentimental piece regarding a real-life event just last month in which I drove out of state to stay with a very good friend who’s had a bunch of bad things happen to him over the past year, and was so despondent that he mentioned taking his life with one of his guns. I spent a few days with him, listened and counseled, and he “backed off the ledge” to the point where we agreed I didn’t need to take his guns, though we set up an emergency contingency plan with a third friend just in case. And all without cops or invoking ERPO.

    Yet this is the THIRD TIME TODAY my comments have been removed and black holed. What’s going with the admin side of TTAG, Dan? Do I need to get into the habit of cut-and-paste saving the text of every comment before posting, just in case your admins decide to ghost my comments again? This has been increasing in frequency, and very frustrating, and happens to others as well. Makes me think whoever you have in charge of your site might need a stern talking to.

    • In most cases you can just use the “back” feature on your browser to return to the page which contains the text you typed out. It can then be copied if you wish and then you can refresh the page to see if your comment has shown up or not so that you’re not posting duplicates or getting the “duplicate detected” message.

        • It’s doing that to me right now. Composed a long post, it evaporated. Clicked back, there it was, posted it again.

          Nothing, it’s not there.

          This time though, I copied it and saved to notepad for after a reboot or something…

        • Weird, that showed up, but without the edit timer.

          It’s doing it on long posts.

          I’ll re-post the long one later.

        • It doesn’t have to be anything nefarious, or personal, or even lazy, by the hosts / overlordser

          Shorter comments. (Ironic coming from me.) and edits in other apps. Even mobile note taking apps take pains not to loose stuff, so a better choice for work you want to keep. Save early; save often.

          /Whats Going On
          Yet to be posted text resides in the browser (-ish. The tangle of technologies, “locations”, aliases n proxies that make up a “modern” browser app, or even “web” page is immense. Plus it “resides” anywhere else the read-in edit n comment functions choose to dispatch it. To be recorded n mined forevermore ad targeting, n surveilling you.) For web pages, all those technologies n behaviors are “read in”: the folks with the page you see have little visibility into what those things do, and less into changes.

          So, whether a comment post is there or not after attempted posting is a bit of a crap shoot — depends on your browser, extensions, settings, the app, and I presume configurations of that. There’s also often weird behavior in these piles of loosely-associated chunks, especially when something gets slow, big, interrupted, restarted or the like. (State coordination among “stateless” services — which are not “stateless” but that’s the term of art — is a pain, especialy when the main or controllinng app is lazy about marshalling. Which they generally are. Which puts loss of work, unexpected outcomes, n navigation weirdness on the users — you. Which isn’t an accident; it’s a choice. They’re pushing work on you, the user, becuse they can get away with it.)

          I’ve seen the term “adversary technology” pop up a lot lately. Good term, perhaps for things like “smart guns”, too.

    • wells, correlations/ causations ands all, but my shite posts always surface. maybe y’alls is too profounds. (sorry, channeling some inner squirrely dans).

    • I’m not fond of the assumption of suicidal tendencies as the only reason for such assistance. If I am selling my house and moving to another state, I might well wish to store my guns somewhere for a month or 6. You can each probably come up with another reason or 2. This ability would also deflect possible future use of a storage agency’s records to build a case for the law removing someone’s guns, which would kill the entire concept.

  2. It’s not the taking of the weapon. I knew a 16yo that killed himself by hanging. It’s the human interaction. Some people are desperate to know that at least one person cares enough about them to make an effort to help them.

    I knew a 20 something girl that killed herself with a gun. There were no warning signs. None that we saw.

    • This. You can’t have both, and for the sake of everybody else’s gun rights, is FUDD mentality needs to be nipped in the bud.

    • We don’t so much need “take my guns” as “take my hand.” Using a gun may be more reliable way to kill ones self. BUT, lots of other easy ways are way too reliable to let slide.

      The problem is the impulse. If someone has reached that level of desperation, the solution is removing the desperation, not any gun.

      Concretely, I’d much rather see a “take my hand” initiative. Even better within the gunny community. It’ll do more good for desperate people. And more good as policy — address the real problem. And it’s good “gun rights” politics; demonstates the courage of gunny people’s convictions.

      • I agree with you Jim. I’m middle aged and who *hasn’t* known someone who was desperate for a friend to “take my hand”, whether that includes holding a firearm or not. Job loss, divorce, death in the family, $hit life.

        Be in a tribe. Make sure it’s geography close enough that you can meet face to face and talk. If you can’t find a tribe, make your own.

  3. I’ve had two friends who decided that life was better off without them. One jumped from a tall building. The other hung himself with a wire. He was still hanging when his mom found him a couple of days later.

    I couldn’t save either of them even though I tried. And I sometimes think that both would be better off if they had a gun.

    • Same here. As I and my friends were turning 18 decades ago, two of them decided within only a couple weeks of each other that this world was better without them, and killed themselves. One with a gun (single .22LR to the head), and the other by noose, where he made sure his mother would be the one to find him. Neither one showed any signs.

      • I had a friend from grade school kill himself by hanging in high school. I had a cousin jump in front of a freight train. When someone decides to check out, they find a way. Restricting my guns isn’t going to stop them from doing this.

      • I Haz a Question,

        Sorry to hear about your two friends killed themselves out of emotional despair.

        Your one friend confirms what I came here to say: that it is exceedingly easy to reliably kill yourself without a firearm. All you need is 50 feet of sturdy rope and a tree, highway overpass, bridge, etc. Or a car and a highway overpass.

        A person who is seriously suicidal needs our care and attention, not isolation and the embarrassment of police raiding their home and removing their firearms.

  4. Not sure what to think about this article…It still leads to the same thing…If a person is “adjudicated” a “prohibited person” in need of mental healthcare (this describes most DemoCRAPs voters and the Demo-Authoritarian handlers…) Or is a criminal, the this needs to be delt with in the courts. Where a person “is innocent till proven guilty in a court of law…” With “due process” and none of their Constitution Rights being forcefully waivered by government entities…And obviously the proceedings can’t be overseen by a leftist Activist Judge….Since they already tow a party line on decisions…And if the person (who has to be arrested, gets to this point, and are fairly adjudicated as innocent of all charges. Then the prosecution and law enforcement involved should be instantly be fined, monetary compensation of not less than $250,000 should be dispensed as compensation to the the aggrieved party, with prison time for the Law Enforcement officers that helped carry out this travesty of Justice…All attorney fees to be covered by the police department and prosecutors office….) That sounds fair!

    • Not sure you read this article. There is not adjudication and therefore no judges involved in this program. It is completely voluntary.

      • That sounds pretty simplistic. If you believe that after you voluntarily hand over your guns to a person that wears a uniform for a living and then later decide to ask for them back thinking that they will just hand them over without you proving to them that you are no longer a threat to society or to yourself with out documentation after receiving some sort of therapy with a doctors or certified counselors signature, I have some beach front property to sell you in Death Valley.

  5. I’ve had to do this in my own house. It’s not a good time. In my case I bought a secure 2 cu.ft. electronic combo safe (not having more than smaller single gun safes and one portable keyed safe) and put all of the handguns in it and then put all of the bolts/bolt carriers for my rifles (since it’s not a long gun safe they won’t fit in there whole). There are no operable guns not in that safe.

    The same can be done to prevent transferring firearms. Disassemble the guns and take the non-serialized parts that let it go bang, whether that’s the part that holds the trigger, the bolt, or even just the barrel for a handgun (that’s probably the part that could most easily be jury rigged if someone were super determined, but at that point they can also just buy another gun). IANAL, but even if you take a serialized part that’s considered the firearm, assuming it’s non-operable on its own, the only way it realistically goes through arrest, arraignment, trial, and conviction from a jury is if it’s being used as a sentence enhancement for another crime (or you live in NJ). It’s possible, but it involves a lot of evil and absolutely inhumane people along the way (like residents of NJ).

    I am glad this program exists for people that don’t want to worry about taking the wrong parts. If nothing else it means people who aren’t familiar with guns can help their gun owning friends get through a tough time.

    • Oh, and also obviously don’t take the giggle switch if there is one. All ATF agents were born in NJ.

  6. (Posted in 3 parts because of TTAG’s code they are running not allowing long posts to show up)

    1 of 3

    Years back, I was asked by the husband of a friend of mine (no, not *that* kind of friend) to take custody of the .38 SPL I helped him buy a few years earlier. No problem. He ended up checking himself into the psych ward of a local hospital for help.

    It ended up being the very best thing he could have done. About a week inside, my friend asked if I’d like to go see him for visiting hours with her. Sure, no problem.

  7. TTAG’s shit code isn’t letting me post that, even though it is in small parts.

    Fuck it…

  8. TTAG a bunch of FUDDS.

    Fuck you, and fuck anyone who takes a cowards way out. I’ve lost both friends and family to it. No excuses. I’ve been that before low too, like when my daughter lived for a week in August 2019.

    No. Excuses. Fuck Suicide, and fuck anyone who thinks taking a gun will stop them.

    Come and take them.

  9. I really do not see an issue if someone wants to knock themselves off. Seems like it is their life and if they want to end it, well it should be their right to do so. I think it is more the family and friends of that person that feel bad due to the sad demise of their loved one that is the issue.

    The problem is that ANY law or justification that allows you to take the firearms from someone can be used to take the firearms from all of us.

    If someone wants to suicide, let them.

    • I tend to agree. The problem with suicide with a gun is the mess unless its done in the woods or in a thick mill contractors trash bag, body bag or the like. If you have a gun collection, give them away to your benefactors before the deed is done so that the local authorities won’t confiscate them forever, saving the least liked for ….

  10. LOL! Person to gun storer, can I leave my guns in your possession as I’m thinking of killing myself and I don’t need them around to temp me. Yea like that is really going to happen in real life. What kind of dream land do these Libtards think they can create for sure?

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