September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and on Saturday, Newsweek published an op-ed authored by Miami Knight, a volunteer with the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action and a member of the Everytown Survivor Network whose son, Ty-Key, died by gun suicide on January 27, 2017. In the piece, Knight writes:
“On that December day, Ty-Key and Keondrick were shot by two people they were in the car with from the backseat. Keondrick was killed, but Ty-Key, who was shot in the head, miraculously lived. But, he never fully recovered. My 17-year-old would never be the same.
Therapy helped him cope, but he never healed. And, on January 27, 2017, Ty-Key shot and killed himself. He told me he could no longer bear the pain.
Suicide, particularly firearm suicide, is often seen as an older, whiter, more rural problem, but Ty-Key didn’t fit into those groups — he was young, Black, and a city kid through and through. And while Black Americans make up a smaller percentage of all firearm suicide deaths, the rate has increased 30% over the past decade. Among young Black Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, the rate of firearm suicide has increased 83%.”
Knight also details her journey turning her grief into action after her son, Ty-Key, died.
“After my son died, I needed to heal. And that started by educating myself about grief. I took classes, became a grief coach, and became a healing shaman to support others grieving. I learned that there is hope in the fight against gun violence — including gun suicide.
For years, it was painful to even say the word ‘suicide.’ I had to learn what it meant to be a gun suicide survivor and how to channel my grief into action.”
Read the full op-ed here.
A new report from Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, first reported on by NPR, details an increase in the rate of firearm suicide among young people over the last decade. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children and teens, and, over the past decade, the firearm suicide rate has increased 56% for young people between the ages of 10 to 24 years old.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a rise in calls to suicide prevention lifelines across the country. By May, the National Crisis Text Line reported a 40 percent increase in traffic—about 100,000 conversations a month. Today, people are still isolated, anxious, and might be struggling financially due to COVID-19 and the risk of suicide is elevated. In fact, recent data analyzed by the Everytown Support Fund found that the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis could bring 20 additional gun suicides per day in 2020 without immediate action.
Resources for journalists on responsibly covering gun suicide are available here. More information about gun suicide here.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You may also contact the Crisis Text Line, which provides trained crisis counseling services over text 24/7. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the US crisistextline.org.
Free and confidential mental health, suicide prevention, and crisis intervention services and resources are also available to people in-need of help, loved ones of those in-need, and frontline workers through the Pandemic Crisis Services Response Coalition at https://www.covidmentalhealthsupport.org.