I recently wrote an article for Concealed Carry Magazine about a close friend who tragically took his own life. Even though 10 years have passed, his death still pains me.
He was plagued by personal demons but never revealed them to his closest friends. At the end, he traveled aimlessly, hiding from nameless, faceless FBI and CIA agents he alleged were sent to kill him. It must have been an anguishing existence and end. My friend was just one of more than 38,000 Americans who committed suicide in 2010. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention noted that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 36,560 people died in traffic crashes in 2018, while the Center for Disease Control and Prevention declared that 48,000 died by their own hand that same year.
It’s no secret that Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City and failed New York Democratic candidate for president, despises guns. So far this year, Bloomberg has funded dozens of ballot initiatives through his gun-control group, Everytown for Gun Safety. According to The New York Times, this organization pledged to spend $60 million promoting gun control and anti-gun candidates during the 2020 campaign. Its specific political objective was to help Democrats flip three U.S. Senate seats, win control of state legislatures and lift Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden to victory in Florida.
The Cost of a Life
Nearly 50 years ago, as a summer intern with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), I worked in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, formerly the federal mental health hospital located in Southeast Washington, D.C. The hospital housed several thousand patients and, in its prison ward, hundreds of violent federal offenders. (Years later, John W. Hinckley Jr., President Ronald Reagan’s attempted assassin, was imprisoned there.)
At the time of my internship, the hospital staff groused that St. Elizabeth’s — opened in 1855 — was chronically underfunded. Funding for the hospital included salaries for its staff members and meals and laundry for the thousands of patients. All of the money to operate for a full year could be paid for by a single Republic F-105G Thunderchief fighter-bomber. At that time, a fully tricked-out F-105 cost about $2.5 million. A total of 382 of these fighter-bombers were shot down or lost during the Vietnam War. Do the math.
America’s mental health funding and services have not improved in the last half-century. Even worse, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital has been dumped into the District of Columbia’s woefully deficient Department of Behavioral Health. A new Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II jet costs $80 million. Mike Bloomberg could comfortably purchase one.
I respect the fact that I and mine are protected by a vigorous, high-tech military. I resent the fact, however, that so many suffering and brilliant people could perhaps be saved by the redirection of a relatively minuscule amount of money. And finally, I’m angry that such a paltry amount — an amount that even a single wealthy individual could fund — could be so misdirected against an item that is little more than a tool — a gun — when it could actually save lives if it were invested in America’s mental health sector.
About Rick Sapp
After his stint in the U.S. Army, including time as an infantry platoon leader and working with West German KRIPO during the 1968 Soviet invasion, Rick Sapp returned home to earn a Ph.D. in social anthropology. Following his education from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Catholic University of America and the University of Florida, he moved to France for a year. Rick worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service before turning to journalism and freelance writing, authoring more than 50 books for a variety of publishers.