This month marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and the beginning of Latinx Heritage Month. Research shows that gun suicide is over one-third of gun deaths of Latinx people in the U.S. In a new piece published by Newsweek, Linda Cavazos, a volunteer leader with Nevada Moms Demand Action and a gun violence survivor whose brother, Louie, died by gun suicide, talks about the prevalence of gun suicide in the Latinx community, the importance of sharing survivor stories, and her work to honor her brother in the gun violence prevention movement.
From the piece [emphasis added]:
“Four hours later, my world came crashing down around me when my older brother called to tell me that Louie was dead—from a self-inflicted gunshot to his head. The next few days are forever a blur—a frantic flight from Las Vegas to Phoenix, with my head buried in an airline seat soaked with tears. I remember my father, bereft at the loss of his youngest of six children, sitting dazed and grief-stricken in his chair. My two older sisters, and two older brothers were unable to speak—all of us just holding one another.Unfortunately, our story does not stand alone.
Gun suicide makes up over one-third of gun deaths of Latinx people in the United States…This is an issue that crosses all racial, ethnic and gender lines, but in Latinx communities, these tragedies are compounded because they often go unacknowledged, not only in official statistics, but also by grieving loved ones.
Latinx families like mine are generationally discouraged from acknowledging trauma, including the impacts of gun suicide. This lack of acknowledgement takes a deep, often hidden toll on those of us who are affected. It also limits our understanding of how many Latinx families have been touched by gun suicide. I’ve seen it myself, both when Louie was taken from us and afterwards.
There is an enormous weight that gun suicide can hold on our lives, which can echo through generations. I’ve been reminded in the years since Louie’s death that our community has so much generational strength and resilience, too… It starts by sharing our stories. We have what it takes to write a new chapter for future generations that makes it easier for those who most need help to ask for it—and to get it.”
The full piece is available here. If you are interested speaking with a gun violence survivor during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You may also contact the Crisis Text Line, which provides trained crisis counseling services over text 24/7. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the U.S. crisistextline.org.