Suicide is a Tragedy, Not a Political Tool

Suicide is a Tragedy, Not a Political Tool

Suicide is a Tragedy, Not a Political Tool

Andrew Black committed suicide on December 6, 2018. He was 23 years old – a young life snuffed out too early by a desperate act. Andrew’s suicide was a heartbreaking tragedy that I am sure left his family and friends in unimaginable pain and demanding answers as to why this seemingly healthy, happy young man would take his own life so suddenly. What I’m at a loss to explain is why his parents would use his death as an opportunity to push a political agenda.

I feel nothing but sorrow for Andrew’s loved ones, but my sympathy ends where political opportunism begins. Apparently, in their grief, parents Rob and Alyssa Black decided it was a good idea to use their son’s obituary to push gun control.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Andrew’s name be made to the Green Mountain Club. Additionally, the family asks that you please consider lobbying your State Representative with the following: “In honor of Andrew R. Black, we ask that you work for legislation that imposes a reasonable waiting period between firearm purchase and possession to provide a cooling off period to guard against impulsive acts of violence.”

Not unexpectedly, in her zeal to use the blood of others to push her political agenda, unhinged demanding mommy Shannon Watts joined the exploitation dance. What I didn’t see from Watts is any indication of sympathy for the family and no acknowledgement of the tragedy. In her usual bout of opportunism, she began calling for gun control, citing Andrew Black’s obituary as though the parents of a suicide victim have some moral authority to call for a nationwide policy change that affects the rights of millions of people.

What were the parents thinking when they decided to push policy in what was otherwise a heartfelt tribute to their son? There was no context about Andrew’s life. We don’t know whether he had mental and emotional issues that caused him to feel pain so acute, that he decided ending it permanently was the only answer. We know nothing other than the fact that this young man bought a gun and was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound a few hours later.

“Andy was having a bad day,” his father said in an interview with a local news outlet.

Although it’s true that many suicides are impulsive acts, I can’t imagine that a simple “bad day” would cause someone to end it all so drastically.

Research has shown a link between alcohol and suicide. Andrew was an avid fan of beer and started home brewing at the tender age of 16; could this have exacerbated whatever feelings of hopelessness he may have experiencing? Did something happen on that “bad day?” The parents aren’t saying, but the media and gun control advocates immediately picked up the gun control baton and ran with it.

“We believe in the Second Amendment, but…” say the parents. “What’s the big deal?” they ask.

What’s the big deal? A waiting period for an abused woman who needs a tool to protect herself from an abuser can mean the difference between life and death. While the victim waits patiently the legally required time, a murderous abuser will have no such limits. Anyone willing to beat the crap out of a partner will have no problem buying a gun from a street dealer, stealing it, or borrowing it. A waiting period will not stop them. Every minute the victim has to wait to exercise her right to protect her life is a minute that the abuser can exploit. That’s the big deal.

Moreover, in some situations, the attack may be especially likely during the waiting period: A person’s attempt to buy a gun may be prompted by a specific threat, a threat which could turn into an actual attack in a matter of days or hours. If a woman leaves an abusive husband or boyfriend, who threatens to kill her for leaving, she may need a gun right away, not 10 days later or 6 months later.

What’s the big deal? Being unable to make a purchase when we want and when we deem necessary is an absolute violation of our rights. You must be able to purchase a gun before you can keep and bear it. Actual possession of a firearm is necessary in order to exercise this right. How is an arbitrary, government-imposed waiting period that prevents law-abiding citizens from taking possession of their property – even for a short time – not infringing on our Second Amendment rights?

Yes, it is a big deal. Making people wait to exercise a fundamental right is a huge deal. Making them beg for government permission to exercise a basic right is a huge deal. Making citizens pay for ineffective programs that have zero hope of stopping violence is a huge deal.

A cooling down period before a gun purchase will do nothing to stop people intent on ending their own lives. They can easily access guns via other means, much like criminals do, and if those means fail, alternate ways to kill oneself are readily available. If they weren’t, Japan – which has banned private gun ownership – wouldn’t have a higher suicide rate than the US.

These facts won’t stop emotionally distraught parents like the Blacks from advocating policies that have no hope of stopping these tragedies, and they definitely will not stop opportunistic, bloodsucking leeches like Shannon Watts from exploiting their heartbreak.

And frankly, using your child’s obituary as a tool to push your political agenda is disgusting.

Featured image courtesy of Pixabay; cropped.

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

17 Comments
  • scott says:

    In general, I’d give parents a pass, as less than 10 days after the suicide of their child, they’re likely so deep in grief that they are not thinking rationally, and even though someone should watch out for them, and prevent them from also doing something stupidly impulsive, like this obituary, it often doesn’t happen. There is also the fact that the parents are likely feeling guilty in some way for his death, and rather than face that guilt, they lash out and try to find someone / something else to blame (another common stage of grieving)
    Skanks like Shannon Watts are another thing all together, just dancing in the blood…
    And as usual, you’re correct Marta, a waiting period, beyond the obvious infringement on a natural and Constitutionally protected right, would have no effect at all on someone intent on ending their own life (I’ve responded to far too many suicides involving jumping from high objects, or in front of trains / vehicles, as well as overdoses to think that guns have anything to do with the problem.)

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      There’s a part of me that wants to give the parents a pass because of their grief, but there’s that other part of me that says, “what kind of human beings would sully their child’s obituary with a nakedly political statement?”

      I guess I’m jaded. Sigh.

      • scott says:

        I get it Marta, I would have been exactly the same (and still have moments like that), until recently, with suicides on my department, and those of friends, I’ve gotten a lot closer and more involved than I ever thought I would, and my attitude has changed significantly.. that’s not to say that I don’t still have very mixed feelings about all involved, but I have gained a new understanding..

    • GWB says:

      I think you nailed it on the “someone to blame” bit. But I am also going to guess they already blamed firearms for a lot of things. It was an easy leap for them.

      would have no effect at all on someone intent on ending their own life
      I’m not going to entirely agree with that, but not for the reasons most people would.
      One of the aspects of suicidal thought is that so many people will give up the idea (for at least a time) if their actions towards it can be interrupted. Firearms can be viewed as an “easy” way to commit the act (partly due to Hollywood-encouraged ignorance about firearms). Pills (that are actually efficacious) are viewed as “hard to get” (though they might not actually be so difficult to obtain). Cutting is viewed as “painful”. Hanging scares people who worry they’ll screw it up. Putting a slight roadblock in some people’s way can derail their suicide. But there is a difference between those committed to suicide and those who have a “bad day”.*

      None of that means firearms rights should be restricted – except for someone who has actually been judged suicidal. It means we have to watch out for our brothers and sisters, and intrude into their lives with our love and fellowship. THAT is the only way to reduce suicide, the only reliable way to interrupt that “chain”.

      (Yes, I have personal experience with a friend committing suicide, and talking a different friend out of it, as well as intervening by calling police. The world can be a very dark and lonely place – even with 8 billion people in it.)

      (* BTW, I don’t know how much of the “bad day” comment is denial because of grief. But, if this young man really did commit suicide because he had a bad day, then I’ve got to say that either his “bad day” was significantly worse than any of mine – and I’ve had some doozies – or his parents (and others around him) failed to give him adequate coping mechanisms. Normally, you gotta have a LOT more than one “bad day” to go for suicide.)

      • Marta Hernandez says:

        That’s what I think too. I was struck by the “bad day” comment as well.

        Although I agree using a gun is considered “easy,” I don’t think a cooling off period will make a difference, because the desperate individual will already know they will have to wait. So if their pain is so sharp, they decide to end it all, the waiting period is already in their “planning,” such that it is, and they’ll go another route.

        Now, for an individual contemplating suicide, but not intent on it that minute, the cooling off period could help, I agree. But what will really help is buddy checks and mental help.

  • SFC D says:

    Someday, Shannon Watts will slip and fall in the blood she dances in, and the world will collectively watch her fade into the obscurity she deserves. Ghoul.

  • Citizen Stan says:

    I don’t think you’re jaded Marta, you just seem so perpetually pertubed and enraged about one thing or another and so eager to find somethiing that can further your desired narrative that you don’t even have the decency to give the parents a pass on how they chose to handle their son’s death. If the parents feel strongly about this issue, they are free to hadle the situation as they see best at this point. It’s you who are “disgusting” with your creepy and caustic criticism of the parents so soon after their son’s death.

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      Disturbed about parents using their son’s obituary to push a political agenda? Yes. Outraged? You’re projecting. Nothing in this post suggests outrage. Disgust? Somewhat, yeah.

      No one said the parents weren’t free to choose how to handle their son’s death. Show me where I’ve written that. You can’t, because it’s not there.

      But hey, if it makes you feel good to call me “disgusting” for criticizing the use of an obituary to push a political agenda, so be it. At least you refrained from dragging my children into your critique this time.

  • Merle says:

    They have no morals at all – their agenda means more that the death of their son.

  • Burkeanmama says:

    His parents play politics with their son’s life. That is probably a big hint as to the son’s despair.

  • Wyldkat says:

    A friend of mine had a son commit suicide, with her husband’s gun. Not long after the son was buried an associate asked my friend if she now supported gun control. After all, if husband had not owned a gun, son could not have killed himself. My friend’s answer was No. What my son did, he did in despair. If he had not access to that gun, he would have found another way. I believe that was the last time my friend spoke to that associate.

    How thoughtless can you be to ask that kind of question of a grieving mother?

  • GWB says:

    While I don’t feel quite as strongly as Marta does about the parents doing this, I think Watts is a ghoul.
    I do think what the parents did was wrong (and I highly doubt they suddenly became anti-gun after their son’s suicide), but I wouldn’t call it disgusting unless there are other indicators.

    One critique of the post, Marta: is that last quote from the Volokh piece linked above it? It’s awfully far away from that link for me to assume that.
    Otherwise a really good post.

    I will say that I am willing to compromise on a waiting period. I think there should be a 6-month waiting period before you can buy your first firearm – from the time you turn 17 1/2 to the time you turn 18. After that, barring changes in your background (assuming you hadn’t already blown that opportunity by becoming a felon before 18), any gun, any time.

    I also back “red flag” laws, btw. As long as they involve due process* before confiscation, and immediate return (and reimbursement, under the 5th Amendment) when adjudication says there isn’t a problem, or after treatment has been deemed successful.
    (* I don’t think due process requires a decision of absolute certainty of imminent harm to others/self. Nor does the entire process have to run out before firearms are confiscated. But, it requires, at an absolute minimum, an actual evaluation of the person by a disinterested third party, and the opportunity to refute (and, thereby hold responsible for false accusations, as well) the accuser.)

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      Thanks, GWB. I didn’t think the Volokh link was that far, but I’ll try to make them closer. 🙂

      Also, there is a very specific reason why I used the language the way I did on the final sentence. I don’t think the PARENTS are disgusting. I think using your child’s obituary for political gains is.

      “And frankly, using your child’s obituary as a tool to push your political agenda is disgusting.”

      As I said previously, I feel for them. They’re grieving and bleeding. I do think, however, pushing a political agenda in their child’s obituary is ghoulish and mars an otherwise beautiful tribute. I do not think the people themselves are disgusting.

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