For people battling depression, thoughts of suicide can be harder to stave off when they have access to and know how to use a gun.
- For veterans with training and access to guns, suicidal impulses can be disastrous
- Nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides
- One pair of veterans is getting help through VA and Mindful Warrior project
Air Force veterans Nicholas Cormier III and Mark Isidore know that temptation all too well.
They are currently roommates at a Veteran Affairs residential treatment facility, and both are very comfortable with guns.
“I had experience with firearms, very comfortable around them, immediate access to them,” said Mark Isidore. “It’s just a sense of security because of the way I grew up and, as a result of my time in the military, it just becomes a constant companion.”
Both men are also battling PTSD. Feelings of anxiety and depression took them both to a dark place.
“I went to the VA hospital in Loma Linda and admitted that I was considering suicide and they locked me up,” Isidore shared. “They took my gun.”
For Cormier, the PTSD he's experienced following his service in the military makes him angry. He says he avoids guns out of fear of what he could do to himself and others.
“I come from a culture where I’m not supposed to feel, I’m not supposed to cry, I’m not supposed to have these emotions,” Cormier said. “So I’ve stuffed those things and I’ve avoided conflict as much as I can, not out of fear of what someone can do to me, but out of fear of what I can do to somebody else because of my training.”
Now armed with treatment, the two are walking a new path toward a life free from depression and anxiety.
Their treatment at the VA helps a lot, so does working with the Mindful Warrior Project which keeps them busy with activities and support.
Each day they are both moving forward by going to therapy and working with other veterans. Each day they step closer to living a life away from the darkness.
“Having my brother here to go through it with me, to set the pace sometimes… that’s been a huge strength for me,” Cormier said.
According to Everytown For Gun Safety, nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides. Access to a gun increases the risk of death by suicide by three times.
For anyone battling thoughts of suicide, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.