A Personal Story
by Judith Carter
If not me, then who? If not now, then when? Those were the two questions on my mind on the February 2013 evening after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School when nearly one hundred gathered at All Saints to talk about what to do about the proliferation of gun violence in our country. Jack Scott moved us all when he spoke about the accidental shooting of his son. Others around the room shared a variety of experiences with gun violence. I raised my hand half hoping that time would run out before I was recognized.
But that evening, it was my turn to be counted. I spoke briefly about my mother’s suicide. The story is tragic. One day when my sister and I were at school and my father was at work, my mother, age 39, took my father’s 22 pistol from a nightstand in their bedroom. Even though her death occurred six decades before that February evening, it was never spoken of after that. Perhaps it was shame. Suicide and the mental illness that led to it were misunderstood and not to be spoken of in the 1950’s.
My father, brother, sister and I continued our lives. We three children went on about our daily tasks. Over the years, we went to school, graduated, married and had children and grandchildren. Still, our lives were forever altered by the fact that we as children had lived with a loaded gun in our home.
Some time after the 2013 meeting at All Saints, a task force was formed to address the “gun issue.” After a lifetime of volunteering for various causes, the opportunity arose for me to help protect others from having my same experience. Although gun suicide is just one aspect of gun violence that the All Saints Gun Violence Prevention Task Force addresses, it is the subject on which I am most passionate.
When I speak about gun suicide, I speak from experience. What I say today is just as relevant as it was when my family experienced my mother’s death. It is and was a health issue, a mental health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. We can help reduce the number of gun suicides and improve the lives of families.
Each week we focus on one “Featured Ministry” put of the many ministries that are part of the work and witness of All Saints Church. This week our Featured Ministry is the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and we are so grateful to ministry Judith Carter for her personal story. To find out more about the Task Force visit their table on the lawn this Sunday (March 5) or their page on the ASC website.