An estimated 40%-60% of dementia patients have guns in their households. Only 1/3 of doctors who ask patients about driving safety also ask about guns in the home. Someone with the disease can experience hallucinations, delusions, agitation, or aggression. If a person is delusional and believes someone is breaking into his or her home, for example, they may feel family members are intruders and confront them with a gun.
Ways to keep your loved ones safe:
- Discuss a “firearm retirement date” early in the diagnosis and get their signature.
- Remove guns from the house. A responsible neighbor or family member can store them.
- At the least, guns should be stored separately from ammunition in a secured and locked case.
- Do not allow someone with Alzheimer’s to have unsupervised access to guns.
- Colorado Gun Services can come to you, pay on the spot, and safely and legally remove firearms.
September 26, 2022
The truth about firearms and Mental Health
October is mental health awareness month. There’s little evidence that people with mental health issues are more likely to assault or kill someone with a gun. In fact, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be the victims of this violence. Suicide accounts for thousands more firearm deaths every year than homicides, according to data from the centers for disease control and prevention.
According to the Mental Health America website, depression is the leading cause of disability globally and many people live with mental illness around the world. The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent: 95-97% of homicidal gun violence is not carried out by individuals with a mental illness. However, suicide is often correlated with depression and is the number ten cause of death in adults nationwide (number three cause of death for youth in America). Firearm deaths associated with mental illness are nearly always suicides. A suicide attempt with a firearm results in death nearly 85% of the time, but more common means of attempting suicide—drug overdose and cutting—result in death less than 3% of the time. If mental illness were eliminated, gun violence in America would go down by just 4%.
Firearms are clearly something to think about when discussing mental health. The safety of loved ones and self are paramount. Possession of a firearm by the mentally ill is regulated by both state and federal laws to try and prevent suicide and firearms getting into the wrong hands at the wrong time.
However, we all need to be aware and do our own part in keeping ourselves, family, and neighbors safe. Make sure your firearms are responsibly and securely stored. If you’re passing down your firearms to a family member, make sure they are qualified to own firearms and in good mental health. These are just some things to think about while being a responsible gun owner.
If you are uncomfortable having them in your home find a responsible neighbor or family member who can store them for you until you feel safe. With the goal being to address the person and try to figure out how to get them the help they need. Or you can contact Colorado Gun Services to remove them safely and legally.