All opinions/views in this article are my own.
April of 2016. I sat at the Miller’s dining table with my mother, along with our family friend, Alana Miller. “It just doesn’t make sense, [my mother’s name, concealed for privacy.].” My mother and I were there consoling Alana for the death of her late husband, Charles.
Charles had taken his life with his gun and was just found in his car after days of searching. He left behind only a ten page letter/suicide note and even instructed her on which suit he wanted to be buried in. All we could do was just smile and tell her things were going to get better.
From that day forward, I knew I wanted to work in the field of suicide prevention.
Two years later, I learned of the possibility of a passing of a bill that would prevent individuals with mental illnesses from obtaining and using guns for a twenty-one day period- that included suicidal individuals thinking of attempting suicide with a gun.
The Extreme Risk Protection Order, or ERPO, was set in place in Connecticut in 1999. It was later passed in several other states- such as Florida, Washington, and Oregon. After hearing word of this important bill, I went to Albany, NY to lobby for it.
I met with Senator Andrew Lanza, Senator Diane Savino, and Assemblyman Matt Titone. I won’t name which politician we met with that did not vote in favor of this bill, but they are often known as the swing vote. They (the specific politician) put ERPO into the codes committee, where the politicians will say something along the lines of “we need to review this bill further” and will leave it there until the end of the senate session in order to put off signing the bill. A month later, I found myself meeting Governor Andrew Cuomo, who went touring all over New York to push for this bill, as we had about one more week to get it passed before the senate session ended.
The codes committee killed the bill.
I still vow to get justice for Charles. His suicide could’ve been prevented with ERPO in place. The next senate session is still some time from now, but I plan on trying to lobby for ERPO then.
Close your eyes and think about your loved ones, your friends, your family- think about losing them. What if that could’ve been prevented? What if your politicians knew this and still denied signing a bill that can prevent you from losing loved ones? Hope that it never gets to that and get ERPO passed in your area as well.