We are AURORA STRONG. We are COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL STRONG. We are ATLANTA STRONG. We are PARKLAND STRONG. We are SANDY HOOK STRONG. We are ORLANDO STRONG. We are LAS VEGAS STRONG. Do we have to continue to be this STRONG?
We, the Boulder community, are a part of a growing list of communities impacted by the many gun violence tragedies that should have never happened. I have been a member of this amazing community for the past 30 years, and I am also a mental health therapist and the owner of mental health programs in Boulder. I am experiencing a strong sense of powerlessness and hopelessness that “we the people” will take the necessary steps to intervene and change the trajectory of the twin epidemics that have become “normal” in our country. We not only have a gun violence epidemic, but we also have a mental health epidemic. We must realize these two go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.
I try to walk a fine line when it comes to blending my work as a mental health therapist and politics, but I would be remiss if I did not also call out our overall lack of responsibility when it comes to common-sense gun control measures. I know we have many, many people experiencing mental health crises in this country, and only a tiny percentage commit atrocity such as what we experienced on Monday, March 22nd, 2021. That said, one mass shooting is one too many. In 2021 alone, the total of mass shootings went from 103 to 104 on March 22nd. 2020 was a record-breaking year for gun-related deaths in the U.S. according to the Gun Violence Archive, where almost 19,223 people lost their lives due to gun violence. That’s an almost 25% jump from the year before. The reality is, if the gunman did not have access to a gun, especially an AR style weapon, this would not have happened. Without a gun, he would not have murdered the 10 amazing people our community lost on March 22nd. More and more it seems like gun rights are more important than human rights.
I, and the teams that I am grateful to be working with, know firsthand what our communities are coping with. Young people, all people, are experiencing higher rates of anxiety and depression than ever before. We are living in a time of violence, fear, death, and a lot of uncertainty. We can do better. It is time to devote our attention to the well-being of those who live in our communities and to everyone in the United States of America, no matter race, color, national origin, age, sex, gender, or sexuality.
As we do our work to support people’s mental health from behind closed doors, we believe we are making a difference, but in reality, we are only a small group of people. Please join us and do what you can to make mental health services accessible to all and to obtain common-sense gun laws. And as I walk that fine line, I encourage you to become politically active, and do what you can to help change our gun laws in our country.
One step you can take today is to donate to support the victims’ families and our community, and/or to mental health organizations.
- Support Boulder as we respond to and heal from the King Soopers tragedy. We are stronger together. ColoradoGives.org
- Your donation to the Elevations Foundation/Elevations Credit Union Victims’ Assistance Fund will be matched dollar for dollar up to $200,000 through April 6th.
- Boulder County Injured and Fallen Officer Fund is a Colorado 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, charitable organization. It supports Boulder County law enforcement members who become seriously injured or killed in the line-of-duty. Proceeds from this fund will go towards Officer Eric Talley’s Family.
- Donate Towards Mental Health and Make a Difference- Mental Health Partners, Boulder County
- Donate to NAMI Boulder County. You are helping us provide support, education and advocacy to thousands of people living with mental illness in Boulder County and across the state of Colorado.
Peace & Love, Tracy