Letter: Our area’s issues

I was one of many concerned citizens to attend a forum on proposed gun legislation in Barre. At the forum, many different theories were discussed on the root causes of gun violence. One is the relationship between drug abuse and gun violence, another is the mental health of violent offenders.

The Gun Owner’s Action League (of which I am a member) stated that the state’s statistics for gun violence is composed largely of suicides. I did find data to support that, this quote is from the Massachusetts DPH: “In 2007, 231 Massachusetts residents died from firearm injuries. Most of these were homicides (48.9 percent) and suicides (48.5 percent).” In addition Heywood Hospital did a “Community Health Assessment” for North Central Massachusetts (ggsuicideprevention.org). The study shows the suicide rate for our area to be 12.3 per 100,000, the state average is 7 per 100,000! Especially at risk are men between 25 and 65 that have been unemployed for 6 months! This is a quote from Heywood’s study: “Some of the resulting effects of the economic crisis have been demonstrated in higher depression and suicide rates, increased reports of substance and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and child abuse, higher levels of crime (which create additional stress for victims and affected neighborhood residents).”

I believe the root cause of many of our area’s problems, including gun violence and substance abuse IS the struggling economy. Good, hard working people are giving up hope due to staying unemployed or having the fear of being unemployed. They are falling victim to depression and drug or alcohol dependency as a result. People with serious mental health issues are slipping through the cracks, they simply are not being identified and treated. Meanwhile everyday people, working men and women, veterans are suffering. They suffer because they avoid seeking treatment for mental health issues out of fear of losing their rights, nobody should have to make that choice.

I will work with other legislators to address mental health issues in the commonwealth while upholding the rights of law abiding gun owners. Let’s start at the roots by bringing the jobs back to our state and keep the businesses here to grow and succeed. I have faith that together, we can get people back to work, and keep Massachusetts a safe place to live!

KAREN ANDERSON

Orange

Candidate for State Representative

2nd Franklin District

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