Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mental Health Funding and Gun Control

In case you weren't reading here in July (which most likely, you weren't), I wrote a similar post after James Holmes allegedly shot 70 people in a movie theater.

If you haven't noticed yet why the U.S. needs gun control, please indulge me while I try to explain. We have over 32,000 shooting deaths a year here. 18,000 are suicides. The rest are murders. That was one statistic I read in more than one place. Even if you go with a lower estimate, there are at least 10,000 shooting deaths a year here by homicide. In countries where guns are illegal there are more like 10 per year (NOT 10,000). I'm tired right now so I'm not going to add citations here, but it's all online, and you can all look it up.

In 2005 I bought a gun. I went to a gun store, of which there are many where I live in Florida. There are many more gun stores in the US than there are McDonald's according to another statistic given out by the media. I was floridly psychotic, suicidal, hearing voices, hallucinating, and suffering from severe delusions when I went into that gun store. But I could fill out a piece of paper just fine. I made my purchase based on advice some assholes on a "pro suicide" website had given me, as to what gun and which bullets would definitely kill me. I told the clerk what I wanted. He gave me the form. I filled it out. It asked if I had ever been judged mentally incompetent, "No", I answered. I did not mention to the clerk that I had been in psychiatric institutions in recent years some 15 times as a patient. The form did not ask me about that. I bought the gun. It cost $400 which I had saved up for this.

Three days later, I went back to the store because the "waiting period" was over, and I could have the gun now. Nobody had checked my mental health records, of course, because they can't as those are confidential. I took the gun, and I went to a shooting range. The gun was a .357 Magnum. Kind of like the kind that was used by Adam Lanza in the horrific murders this past week. He used a semiautomatic to shoot the children and adults he murdered, and he used a .357 to shoot himself. That was all I planned on doing, shooting myself. Nobody else. I bought a certain type of exploding bullet that would be guaranteed, according to the experts' advice, to kill me but not go through my body and hurt anybody else.

I was worried about the bullet going through the wall to the house on the other side of my apartment (it was an apt. attached to a house), and I didn't want anybody there to be injured or killed by a wayward bullet. I was real concerned about that.

At the shooting range, I asked men who were avid gun enthusiasts to show me how to shoot the gun I had bought. And they did. One referred me to someone who could give me special private lessons for "self defense" (my supposed reason for buying this gun). One showed me how to shoot a shotgun. I came home from the firing range with the bulls' eye I'd hit on the target I had shot at. I was proud of it. I would kill myself well, and it would not fail. This was my plan.

I wrote a living will. I bought gifts for my friends and family members. I wrote them cards and letters. I wrote a letter to the police who would find my body. I set it all up. I sat down with the loaded gun in my bathroom of my little apartment. It was a small bathroom with yellow bath mats and a yellow shower curtain. I got a bottle of Vodka somewhere, and I decided it would help me to drink and take some of my Klonopin when I did this, so maybe it would be easier to do it. I also had a Bible with me. I'm not religious, but this was when I still believed I was Jesus. And of course, Jesus dies. I also thought I was pregnant, and had been thinking that for four years.

I took the gun, loaded it, and held it in my mouth. I tasted it. I still remember the metallic taste of it. I could have pulled the trigger. But I didn't. After sitting there crying and debating what to do and talking to myself for hours I decided that I would go to the hospital one last time to have the four year old fetus removed from my body since I thought it was dead. And then I would go and kill myself if that didn't work. Of course, that didn't work, so  I left the hospital.

By this time, the guy I mentioned on here in past posts, Kevin, had contacted my brother and my dad at their office, and told them I had bought a gun. When I was in the emergency room, my mom called the hospital and told them I had a gun. My brother came to the hospital to meet me there. I was just going to say goodbye to him and go shoot myself. I left the ER, and he was outside in the parking lot. They hadn't gotten the fetus out of me, so there was no use in trying anymore. It was time to die. The gun was loaded in the trunk of my car.

My brother said, "Do you have a gun?" I said, "Yeah, but don't worry about it. It's not your problem." I then went to leave.

About eight police cars arrived. They took me in handcuffs to the hospital. They took the gun. My dad came to the scene, and was drunk and cried. My mom came to the scene and was screaming at the cops and at me. I tried to escape the hospital but no such luck.

My life had just been saved.

And that is how I almost shot myself. But didn't. I never almost committed any homicidal acts, because that never was something that I felt compelled to do, no voices told me to hurt anybody else other than myself, no signs and no messages pointed towards doing harm to others as a mode of action I should take. But the voices, the signs, the messages, they all told me to shoot myself. And I almost did.

I strongly believe in gun control. In fact, I actually believe the Second Amendment should be abolished, and all guns should be banned completely from everyone in the U.S. How many more innocent children and how many more innocent teenagers, and how many more innocent adults have to die by homicide or suicide before we outlaw the damn guns???

I also strongly believe that our pathetically under-funded mental health system (Florida now ranks 51st or 52nd amongst the states, after Washington DC, and I believe Puerto Rico, in mental health funding), needs an overhaul, with extreme additions of funding and resources. More research needs to be funded by the government into the causes of illnesses like Schizophrenia and the possible cures. More money needs to be put in rather than, as it usually is, taken out. And perhaps we should consider that possibly closing down all the state hospitals didn't help everybody who is now homeless on the streets in a psychotic state since there are no beds for them to go to.

I believe Assertive Community Treatment needs more funding everywhere in the US, and it will keep people out of hospitals, off the streets, and out of jail cells. I believe suicide and homicide are preventable, espeically if we get rid of guns and start having open diaglogues about metnal illness and the reality of it in our lives.

We, who have mental illnesses, are more likely to victims of crimes and violent acts than to commit them. But there are some who commit violent crimes because they are:
1. suffering a psychotic break
2. have access to guns
3. don't know how to get help

And we must prevent those deaths. The homicides, the suicides, and the combination homicide/suicides. We must.

Edited to Clarify:
I don't relate myself to people like Adam Lanza or any any other killers. I think it is a mistake to lump everyone with Schizophrenia or a psychotic-like disorder into one category, and I certainly don't know what was going on in the mind of that young man who slaughtered all those innocent children and adults.

I'm not like him. I wouldn't intentionally hurt anything but a fly or an ant or a cockroach, and only in the past would I hurt my own self. I never would, even in my most psychotic states, have harmed others. But I think the plethora of gun violence we see in this country is related to the plethora of mental illness that exists, and that's really all I'm trying to point out here.

2 comments:

Situation10 said...

This was a really good post. I can't agree that guns should be abolished, but I understand why people would say such a thing. Plenty of people can get them and use them properly for just hunting or target practice. However people like you and I would think of using them to escape mental illness.

If I had a gun I would be dead a long time ago. If I could get one now I would want it for self defense against attackers, not really myself anymore. Although I could very well kill myself on a bad day. I don't fear death so that is bad in a way I guess.

Situation10 said...

I just read the edited part, I can agree with that.

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