On the last day of 2020, my son Hans walked into a gun store in the Philadelphia suburbs and legally purchased his first firearm. Two hours later, he was dead by suicide.
He was 22 years old, and we had no idea that he was suicidal. Hans was deeply committed to his community, serving on the Student Government Association and leading at Ultimate Frisbee at his college. His passion for environmental justice took him to study sustainable practices and regenerative farming, and he loved nothing more than slinging his portable hammock between two trees to enjoy the sounds of a forest.
But in a moment of crisis Hans followed an impulse with deadly results. The only thing that might have saved my son would be a short waiting period to take possession of that gun. Hans is why I’m calling on Pennsylvania legislators to cosponsor waiting period legislation right now. Will you join me?
The bill would create a three-day cooling-off period, a chance to have a change of perspective. More than 85% of suicide attempts made with guns are fatal, significantly higher than other tools used for self-harm. But when people do survive they rarely go on to die by suicide.
That’s where waiting periods come in. That short pause gives someone, like my Hans, a chance to get help. Youth suicide is on the rise, and mental health programs won’t reach all who need them before they think to get a gun. Please join me in calling for a three-day waiting period so another parent doesn’t have to experience my grief.
~ Jenny Anne