• Ken Kraushaar

Firearms and Suicide

Hello all,

I hope February is treating you all well, 3 days in. it's hard to believe that it's two months into the new year already.

I wanted to touch on a subject that has personally affected me in a big way, and that's firearms, and the topic of suicide. just about 30 years ago, my Grandfather, Fred Spaulding, chose to take his own life by committing suicide by using a 38 special revolver.

first, lets talk about suicide:

the CDC lists suicides in terms of cause of death as follows:

All suicides

  • Number of deaths: 42,826

  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 13.4

  • Cause of death rank: 10

Firearm suicides

  • Number of deaths: 21,386

  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 6.7

Suffocation suicides

  • Number of deaths: 11,407

  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 3.6

Poisoning suicides

  • Number of deaths: 6,808

  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 2.1

Suicide quite literally is the process by which the self comes into conflict with errant thought and habits. in the case of addiction, it's easier to draw this line, as it's the self/brain's way of trying to tell the ego that whatever is going on, can't continue, and must change in some way.

The ego, which is a conflated form of how we perceive ourselves reads this as "we have to die in order for x to change." but this is a misrepresentation of what's actually going on. the self is trying to tell the ego that the pattern which is the ego's normal means of operating is not working, and needs to be altered, but our ego, especially our ego when it's tied to addiction, for instance, can't imagine things getting better, changing, or existing without "x", whatever "x" is, and fights it.

My grandpa's story is tragic, not only because he died way too young, but for really crappy reasons: he felt he wasn't valued, needed, or worth anything. His whole life was full of both hardship, as well as an amazing ability to do whatever he wanted to in life: he was in the navy, was a police officer, a casket maker, a jeweler, a husband, a father, a grandfather; he was a baseball coach, a range master for the police department. he could work with metals, or leather; taught my uncle how to trick shoot, and over all, he had a wonderful sense of humor.

the other side of the story was that he was needy. you see, he was adopted. he needed attention. he didn't know boundaries and didn't understand why it was an issue when my uncle's girlfriends would pay attention to him because he was being interesting. he was one of those people who instilled in his children that you give even when you don't have anything left to give, because even though you need a thing, somebody needs it more and that that somehow made you a good person. My grandpa had a really hard time finding value in himself, because he was probably taught that he wasn't valuable.

when he started to have physical limitations, it bothered him. when he was dropped as a repair person for a local jewelry company, it devastated him. he never understood why that could happen. he did good work, he probably thought to himself, why would they drop me? this rejection told him he was worthless, instead of the simple reality that the company decided to go with someone else, and he needed to change something. his ego was so wrapped up into this, that it didn't matter that there were and still are, people who loved him and valued him very much.

the sad thing is that the love of family wasn't enough for him. he had to constantly have adoration from outside sources. he had adoration from his grandchildren (all 3 of us) and his family, but yet he still couldn't see how he was needed and loved. he didn't want to go talk to a "head shrinker" because of the generation he came from, but it probably could have saved his life today......

one morning my grandfather decided to kill himself. he did so with a 38 special revolver, using ammunition he bought from a local gun store, and one I still frequent to this day. the thing is- the gun didn't kill my grandfather; my grandfather killed himself by using a gun. and there's a big difference between the two reckonings.

in today's society, we rush, way too quickly at times, to sue firearms companies, or blame the existence of the object which killed, for the killing, instead of holding the person themselves responsible. it seems counter-intuitive, but the only way we can be free of the mental anguish that suicide causes those left behind, is to allow ourselves to be angry at that person. holding the person accountable requires that we ourselves allow ourselves to feel everything towards our lost loved one, even the emotions which suck.

this is counter intuitive. how can we be angry at somebody that we loved, especially when they felt so bad; bad enough to end their life. how do we reconcile? well, people feel all sorts of things when people die, and anger is one of those things. but what we fail to realize is that it is entirely possible to love somebody very much, and to feel angry, and hate them for what they did. we have to feel that anger too, but far too often, it is turned on manufacturers of firearms and ammunition, instead of being put where it belongs. it is irrational to blame somebody who had no part in killing our loved one (a corporation/manufacturer) but what we're feeling isn't rational in and of itself. it's completely emotional.

I loved my grandfather very much. his skills have been an inspiration to me in my life from the time I was small to even this day. there's not a day that goes by where I don't think of him. but that said I'm angry at him, and I hate what he did; what he did wasn't noble, suicide never is. what he did was selfish, and hurt my family in a way that no other person, other than death itself could do. with the flash of some powder and primer, his life was cut too short by an errant thought system that was trying to tell him that the way things were, needed to stop, and that he needed to change... not that he needed to die, but he couldn't see that.

it takes personal strength and resolve to feel and process emotions, and suicide leaves those left behind struggling to cope with a senseless loss. but part of coping is going through those emotions. blaming everyone else for the death only serves to bury those feelings deep down, and they have a habit of coming out as our own personal demons.

with me, it was my own personal battles with addiction. when I dealt with those things, I was able to get my addiction under control; when I got it under control, I was able to change my life. those life changes brought me to do what I do today: work on guns, despite guns being the means that ended my grandfather's life. and that's kind of the point.

part of dealing with loss is feeling it. if we love that person, then we need to feel everything, and in the case of suicide, it's healthy to feel anger at that person and acknowledge that we both love them, and hate what they did.

it's always the person who chooses to kill themselves, folks, it's never the gun that makes that choice, and no matter how many guns magically disappear, when a person chooses to go down that path, it could be a knife, it could be a noose, it could be carbon monoxide, it could be anything, but it wouldn't stop it from happening.

the only thing that stands a chance is to be real, be involved and step into that person's life, and get them help, and help them to realize they need help and are loved.

guns aren't the problem- errant thinking is the problem, and we can all get involved to help.

if you or somebody that you love has problems, and has thoughts of suicide, a great place to start is by calling the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

another great place to contact is hope for the day.

hope for the day is another suicide prevention outreach organization geared towards intervention and education.

suicide is a real thing. it's causes are many, just as the the implements and means of taking a life are many. but by learning, educating, and intervening, we might be able to help somebody we love, or somebody we don't even know.

as always, stay safe, and tell your loved ones that you love them, frequently, and often.


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