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Sep 3, 2003


First of all: experiencing the symptoms of a mental illness does not automatically make a person a prohibited possessor. Seek help if you are hurting or feeling unwell.

A discussion of mental health within a firearms community is always a good idea-- in 2016, of the 38658 deaths involving a firearm in the US, 22938 were suicides. Access to a firearm can dramatically increase the chances that a suicide attempt is successful; not shocking given the immediacy and severity of the damage that can be caused by a firearm versus other methods of self-harm. With this in mind, we must go beyond being lawful participants in our chosen sport, and work towards being responsible as well. Part of this responsibility involves increasing our awareness of mental health issues with a mind to helping create a community in which people can feel comfortable talking about what they are experiencing and asking for help when they need it.

Before we launch into heavier discussions, I think it is important to lay down some basics in terms of terminology. In the popular understanding of mental health, many terms that have very specific meanings are often conflated, confused or outright misunderstood and so it is useful to establish a common understanding of some basic terms:

The difference between psychologist and psychiatrist: these two practitioners are often confused for one another. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with the power to diagnose illnesses and prescribe medication. Psychologists generally do not have this power in Canada and the US, nor do the other practitioners that one might encounter in mental healthcare (like cousellors of various types, and social workers). Both psychiatrists and psychologists can deliver psychotherapy (talk therapies), but you will find that often psychiatrists do not tend to do this regularly due to the demand for their services. Psychotherapy and counselling can be (and usually is) delivered by an array of other professionals-- in fact, something like 60% of the mental health treatment delivered in the US is delivered by social workers.

Mental illness, or mental disorder, is a behavioural or mental pattern that is pervasive, persistent and which can impair a person's ability to function. There are a remarkable variety of mental illnesses and multiple disorders can occur simultaneously (comorbidity). Diagnosis can be accomplished through a similarly varied number of tests and inventories-- for your own sake (and safety) stay the hell away from online tests and the trap of self-diagnosis.

Mental health refers to a person's condition from the perspective of psychological and emotional well-being.

Stigma is the sense of shame, disgrace, discomfort, isolation, etc. that is all too often associated with mental illness. There are a lot of really, really ugly assumptions baked into our world views (rugged self reliance! bootstraps! trickle-down economics!) that can lead us to label or make some likewise hideous assumptions about those who are grappling with a mental illness. How often, dear reader, have you heard someone who is dealing with depression described by someone else as lazy or unmotivated? The tragedy of stigma is two-fold: it demonstrates to the person on the receiving end to feel like nobody is listening (which is particularly painful given that mental illness often inculcates those feelings anyways) and in the mind of the person transmitting it, it reinforces those negative assumptions that could in turn lead them to refuse to seek help when it's their turn to feel unwell.

Rehabilitation is the process by which a person is restored to health, with that being the end goal and the stages of the process leading to it. It tends to be clearly laid out and linear in nature. This is very much a prominent feature of mental health treatment in a medical context (i.e. a hospital).

Recovery is an alternate view to mental health treatment, which is based off of the idea that a person can live a meaningful and fulfilling life while also managing the symptoms of a mental illness. This process is decidedly non-linear and is also very highly individual-- no two paths to recovery are going to look exactly alike. It can also be deeply discouraging, unpleasant, painful, awkward and any number of other less than nice things. Recovery involves confronting some often very hurtful truths about ourselves as we move through it. A person pursuing recovery might find themselves moving backwards and forwards through their process at different times.


The presence of firearms in a household greatly increase the likelihood of a successful suicide attempt over other methods like overdose, laceration or strangulation. It is quite common for people attempting suicide through means other than a firearm to have second thoughts and seek help-- it is far, far harder to do that with something as immediately and catastrophically damaging as a firearm. For this reason, any discussion of mental health in the context of firearms must address the topic of suicide.

If you are having thoughts of suicide

Suicidal ideations, or thoughts can manifest in different ways. In some cases, people might find themselves exploring the idea of what it might be like if they weren't around anymore. In other cases, they begin to plan the method of their death. While the latter is clearly more severe, both are serious issues and deserve to be treated with appropriate care. If you find yourself having thoughts like these, please consider finding ways to limit your access to firearms until you are in a healthier headspace. Some ways to do this are:
-Secure your firearms in a locked safe or cabinet and give the keys needed to access them to another person;
-Secure your firearms with someone you can trust to watch over them.

If these are not possible, the goal should be to find ways to ensure that access cannot be achieved quickly-- forcing yourself to take a significant amount of time to reconsider what you are planning to do and seek help should be the goal. Some ways to do this might include:
-Comprehensively disassembling your firearms and storing the components in multiple locked containers;
-Securing your firearms and freezing the keys in a block of ice.

Regardless of what you choose to do in regards to your firearms, seek help. It may take some time, but you can feel better.

If you suspect someone you know might be having some thoughts of suicide

As mentioned suicidal ideations are basically expressions, be they verbal or written or otherwise, of a desire to self-terminate. These can be detected in the language a person uses in conversation-- if you notice that a person you know is sounding more and more sad or hopeless, check in with them and see how they are doing. In the case of small children, hearing things statements that reflect a desire to see a recently lost relative or pet are a possible indicator. Giving away prized possessions can also be a warning sign, particularly if the language accompanying the gift suggests sadness or sounds hopeless or like a good-bye. Risk escalates dramatically in light of painful events like deaths in the family, relationships ending, business losses, etc.

IT IS VERY MUCH A MYTH THAT ASKING A PERSON ABOUT SUICIDAL THOUGHTS WILL CAUSE THEM TO COMMIT SUICIDE. So summon the moral courage it takes to be a little awkward-- ask and check in. I think that you will find most of the time people are glad someone cared-- and the worst-case scenario is that you are planting a seed in their mind that you are a safe person to talk to if they ever really do need an ear to listen.

What happens if someone comes to you and wants to talk? First of all, good on you. You've demonstrated to someone that you are kind and caring enough to be trusted with something intensely personal. Listen to them-- hear them out. Check in with them by paraphrasing what you think you have understood from what they have shared. This demonstrates to them that you are paying attention, and also helps make sure that there is a shared understanding of what is happening. Unless you are being an ignorant poo poo or telling someone to kill themselves, there is very little you can do that is going to make things worse. Take a moment to recognize two very important facts with the person talking to you: first, that it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and to admit that one needs help, and second that there is very clearly a big and important part of the person you are talking to that wants to live. If there wasn't, the discussion wouldn't be taking place. If at any point you see clear indications that a person is in danger, contact emergency services.

One of the best things you can do if you are feeling down is to talk to someone. Our imaginations are very vivid places, and painful feelings can seem much larger in there-- talking about those feelings forces them into daylight, where they aren't so scary.

Know some resources in your area. Canada and the US are too huge to do a comprehensive list here, but there will be some different websites, articles and services highlighted at the end of this post.

Anxiety and Depression

There are a huge array of different possible diagnoses that exist for mental illnesses. The most current catalogue of these is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, also known as the DSM-V. I am neither interested nor qualified to really lay down a broad list of different mental illnesses that one is likely to encounter, so in this instance I have opted to focus on two extremely common forms of mental illness (particularly in light of what is going on today) and what you can do to help alleviate (but not cure) the symptoms. If you are experiencing either of these things, especially depression, it is important to seek help and treatment-- your family doctor or a reputable GP can be a good starting point and will be well placed to refer you to other local specialists.

These two mental illnesses can be caused by imbalances in brain chemistry, but also by traumatic events, significant life changes , family changes, environmental factors and other influences. When discussing this post with poeticoddity, it was sagely pointed out that:


Example: Sudden job loss often causes depression. It's tempting to think that finding a new job will fix the depression, but being depressed will make it harder to find a new job or find one that helps with the depression.

...and this is absolutely correct.


Not all forms of anxiety are negative-- bringing some notes or documents home to review out of concerns about an upcoming work presentation is an example of healthy anxiety. Anxiety triggers our fight/flight/freeze response and essentially acts as an internal warning alarm that alerts and prepares us for a possible danger, hazard or cause for concern. This is great when there's a real, true danger at hand, but when this happens without any clear threat-- when the fight/flight/freeze response activates without clear reason-- the anxiety becomes a serious issue. There are something like 11 different types of anxiety that are generally recognized in adults, but they broadly share a number of common symptoms. If you've been feeling the following regularly and for a prolonged period of time, it might be a good idea to talk about how you have been feeling with a professional:

- A feeling of worry, dread, fear or deep insecurity out of nowhere;
-Is regularly occurring;
-Is intense enough that it impacts your ability to function in your day-to-day routine.

Panic attacks are probably one of the most common forms of anxiety disorder-- these are intense feelings of dread or imminent doom so intense that you feel as if you might die. Panic attacks can result in rapid, shallow breathing, a tight sensation in one's chest, narrowed vision and a host of other symptoms. While panic attacks feel absolutely awful, they are not fatal. Being as how all of us are adults here, it is worth mentioning that some of the symptoms of a panic attack can also be symptoms of a heart attack-- so if you've got any kind of medical history that indicates that could be a possibility, get checked out to make sure that's not the problem.

Anxiety is cyclical in nature-- it begins with the activation of that fight/flight/freeze response and grows as we attach thoughts to the feeling of worry or dread. Because there is no clear threat, these thoughts are typically worries about things that are remote possibilities or even what we might rationally be able to recognize as utter bullshit. As we devote more time and brainpower to thinking about the things that the anxiety has stirred up, we make ourselves more and more anxious. Learning how to identify how you experience the cycle can help you manage the anxiety so that you're less likely to get overwhelmed by it-- your thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical reactions are all connected and offer a great deal of insight as to where you are in the cycle and how to stop it or feel better.

Some helpful ways to manage anxiety:

- Breathing exercises like this:
- Distracting yourself with hobbies or chores that can help you take your mind off of things
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy based interventions like this:


Depression is a sense of deep and lingering sadness or despair that persists for weeks or months at at time-- and for some people, longer. It is one of the most common of all mental illnesses and affects people of all ages and social situations. The feelings of misery are so real and so intense that they impact a person's ability to function-- common symptoms can include:

- Feeling sad or down;
- Feeling irritable, or even angry;
- Feeling helpless or hopeless-- or trapped;
- A deep sense of isolation or loneliness;
- Trouble concentrating or focusing on things;
- Feeling drained of energy;
- Losing interest in things you used to enjoy;
- Pulling back from friends and family;
- Significant changes to sleep patterns and appetite.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and it is worth noting that the exact symptoms can vary substantially from person to person. Depression can also co-occur with other mental illnesses, particularly anxiety. This is a real and serious mental illness: those dealing with it are not lazy, or low energy-- they're fighting against something that is merciless and monstrously powerful.

If you are supporting a friend or loved one who is dealing with this illness, it can be helpful to focus on assisting them with meeting their corporeal needs. For instance, try to ensure that they are eating regularly and healthy food (to counter act the disruptions to appetite), be present frequently (to counter act the sense of isolation).

If you are feeling what could be consistent with depression, it is important to speak to a mental health professional. Depression is a real and serious mental illness and can have significant impacts on a person's life-- in some cases, the feelings of despair can become so intense that a person might consider suicide. While even mundane tasks can feel monumental when a person is feeling deeply exhausted and drained by the depression, self-care is extremely important in helping to manage it. To the extent that it is possible, try to seek out opportunities for exercise, good nutrition, human contact and to follow through with routine tasks like taking a shower and doing laundry. Most importantly, be kind and patient with yourself-- depression is a serious mental illness, not a personal failing. How you are feeling is not your fault, and you do not deserve to be blamed for that.

Depression can be treated through a variety of means, including medication and various forms of talk therapy. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be helpful, for instance, in helping a person better know how the depression is affecting them, and through that how to process or challenge the intensely negative thoughts and feelings it causes. You can feel better, but it will take time.


911- Useful in an emergency situation if a person is injured or you have clear reason to suspect that they are in imminent danger of self-harm. (Also available in Canada and the UK). These guys offer crisis counselling services, with a mind to helping a person cool down from a heightened state, or to connect with emergency services if needed. These folks have a wide array of resources for all sorts of different groups-- the elderly, veterans, kids, addictions, and also offer services in Spanish.

211 In Canada, most provinces maintain 211 numbers to help residents connect to community and social services in their areas.

811 In Canada is a telehealth number in most Canadian provinces

Good 2 Talk A crisis support line in Canada for University age people-- usually 20-30. 1 866 925 5454. Currently running in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Kids Help Phone A crisis support line in Canada for pretty much anyone under the age of 30. 1 866 668 6868, also has a chat service at Age-appropriate resources for anxiety, including a self directed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course. Same, but for depression!

The following is cribbed from TGRS's list of mental health resources (thank you Koalas March), which they have graciously allowed us to duplicate here. As most of our readership skews heavily towards the US and Canada, I have focused primarily on those areas. The full list can be found here:


Depression Hotline:1-630-482-9696

Suicide Hotline:1-800-784-8433


Trevor Project:1-866-488-7386

Sexuality Support:1-800-246-7743

Eating Disorders Hotline:1-847-831-3438

surprise sex and Sexual Assault:1-800-656-4673

Grief Support:1-650-321-5272

Runaway:1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000

Exhale:After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice: 1-866-4394253

Child Abuse:1-800-422-4453

I will close by stating that I am operating from a caucasian heterosexual cis-male perspective. Views and resources from other perspectives are both very much welcome and highly encouraged.

Many thanks to poeticoddity for their input into the material that went into this post.

Fearless fucked around with this message at 06:07 on Apr 1, 2020


Oct 22, 2010


Thanks OP!

I Demand Food
Nov 17, 2002

Thanks for this, OP!

I just wanted to reiterate that the stigma around mental health is absolutely bullshit. If you need help, get it. It's not a weakness in any way. Being able to work through issues, feelings, and emotions is much better than drowning in them and some disorders only get worse over time (especially if someone tries to self-medicate).

Sep 25, 2006

I'm giving this a sticky. I'm also leaving it open if people want to discuss this stuff, but keep the conversation on the rails. I don't want this thread wandering off into the standard TFR stream of consciousness.

Sep 3, 2003


I Demand Food posted:

Thanks for this, OP!

I just wanted to reiterate that the stigma around mental health is absolutely bullshit. If you need help, get it. It's not a weakness in any way. Being able to work through issues, feelings, and emotions is much better than drowning in them and some disorders only get worse over time (especially if someone tries to self-medicate).

You're welcome, all.

This is all very much true-- it takes tremendous strength and resolve to be vulnerable and honest with yourself. That being said, it is also very much worth pointing out that counselling or therapy is not an easy process as either will involve deeply personal and very likely painful or uncomfortable conversations that one would typically rather avoid. Feeling better is certainly possible, but it does take a lot of resolve, hard work and dedication to accomplish and for this reason, I have immense respect for the people that try.

Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747

admin edit: this person is a tremendous rear end in a top hat and if they ever post in TFR again Iíll perma them


Second admin edit: Oh, its avshalom.



Mar 5, 2003

I'm going to drop in like a ghost and throw this down. Not enough people know about this organization so I will shamelessly plug it here.

I co-run my own local chapter here in Georgia, and these groups are all over the place. We're peer run organizations and are inclusive to anyone. It is a support group for people who have bipolar or depression disorders, or sometimes are just going through some poo poo. No requirements for diagnosis and no AA style bullshit. Most of the times we just talk. I've heard stories from everyone, and every walk of life. Our group runs it like an open forum where every person gets to talk, and if someone wants to get something off of their chest, we let them. There's little pamphlets, and we like to check on each other, but mostly it's about a single idea: You're not alone.

I've struggled to tell people about what it is like when I can't get out of bed, or I can't sit still because I just have to move or I feel like I'll die. But in a place like a DBSA session, they all understand. They know what that feeling is like. Knowing and believing I am not alone has gotten me through some dark times. So if I can share that with anyone, I will.

Obviously we are shut down for the pandemic, but there are online resources on the site, and it still would be good to get in touch with your chapter leader. Also for anyone that is worried, it is a secular group, so you don't have to worry about anyone praying the demons away.


Sep 25, 2006

Thatís a great resource thanks for bringing it up.

FYI donít be afraid to post resources in here. I donít want this to be a chat thread but itís open for a reason. If you have stuff like this to make people aware of or if you are having problems and want to know where to look feel free to use this thread.

Edit: and it goes without saying (but Iíll make it explicit) that if you post something asking for help and go ďoh poo poo that was a bit more than I wanted on the InternetĒ Iíll be happy to nuke it using the power of admin.

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