Note: This story contains mention of domestic violence and suicidal ideation.

Please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK if you’re in need of assistance.

I wanted to share my experience with you on this Suicide Prevention Day. I used to be a firearms instructor. It was through my training and work with local law enforcement and domestic violence resources that I realized I was living in a domestic violence situation. My abuser saw himself losing control, and he financially coerced me into quitting the firearms industry. That’s when I entered a three year period of isolation. This last year has been exceptionally mentally difficult for me. I have complex PTS from prolonged childhood abuse, sexual assault, and a violent attack where I was stabbed in the face and chest. I have a significant anxiety disorder and significant situational depression. I also have no mental healthcare access because my (legal) husband makes too much money, and our HSA is maxed out. Plus, we’re severely in debt. I have been trying for six years to find a way out, but I have no family or resources.

Being a stay at home mom for 11 years with two autistic children has taken me to a place mentally where I no longer carry a firearm. I couldn’t stop putting my pistol in my mouth. It gave me chills hearing you today because I’ve been saying for years, “I feel like I have been screaming from the roof of a burning building for years! Eventually, people jump!”

But I’m proud of myself for doing the right thing and making sure I don’t have access in a weak moment. There’s a program where people can check in their firearms for safe storage without government intervention. I honestly believe this program could reduce the firearms suicide rate… especially after my experience.

Thank you for doing what you do — starting the conversation. One helpful resource for me was the NSSF Suicide Awareness pamphlet. To look at the statistics on paper and know you fit the profile, it honestly made me look at myself, my feelings, and my behavior.