Age 56 , Texas
On the morning of December 8, 2012, my telephone rang. It was my father, who lives in Israel, calling to tell of the tragic news that his wife’s 56-year-old son, Boaz, had shot himself in his home in Houston, Texas. My father and his wife Leah, were incredulous that Boaz would choose to end his life in this way. Leah was inconsolable and my father was in shock and completely grief-stricken. Boaz was a special person, who had many friends and his family and friends have been forever impacted by his sudden death. Less than one week after Boaz’s suicide, the tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut took place. As the country was plunged into a collective feeling of confusion, loss and grief, my step-brother’s death combined with the staggering losses each year from gun violence and suicide brought me to an emotional tipping point. As a psychologist, I needed to do something to cope with my personal loss and collective loss and bring others together to talk about what we can do to make a difference regarding gun violence and suicide awareness. My volunteer efforts are focused on the local, state and national levels to work towards increasing awareness of gun related suicide and gun violence prevention. I can think of no better way to acknowledge the memory of my stepbrother Boaz and the many other victims of suicide and gun violence. We must advocate for those whose lives have been lost and for the families and friends who have been forever impacted by these tragic deaths.