Regarding the April 29 news article “Schaffer’s bill would ease gun rules”: When health professionals perform suicide and homicide risk assessments, we ask several questions: Is the person thinking of harming himself or others? Does the person have a plan? Would this plan be lethal? Does the person have access to the means to commit the act?
Guns provide highly lethal methods of suicide and homicide. The impulse to commit these acts comes from deep despair, grief and rage. Many people seek help from mental health providers in these states of high distress.
I have spent more than 20 years working with persons with severe mental illness, the vast majority of whom are competent adults. On many occasions, I have recommended to families that means to suicide are kept away from persons with mental illness, especially during acute phases of psychosis, depression or mania, when the possibility of irrational acts is greater. We advise families to put medications in lock boxes and remove guns from the home.
HB 652 would prohibit health care professionals from inquiring about the most lethal means of suicide or homicide. It would cripple our efforts at suicide and homicide prevention.
Barbara B. Smith