“He was brilliant, had all kinds of accolades. He went to the best private schools, on wonderful vacations…but all of that doesn’t mean you’re going to be immune to mental illness,” White-Seals said.
One day while visiting his parents, Seals told his father he was struggling mightily with depression and agreed to be hospitalized to get help. While his father sat at a computer to get directions to take his son to a nearby psychiatric hospital, Seals walked down to the end of the driveway and shot himself.
When police researched the history of the gun, it was discovered that Seals had bought the weapon legally.
“I can’t believe Kylen would have checked the box that asked if he had a history of mental illness,” his mother said.
White-Seals said she wishes there had been a requirement to automatically check both a mental illness as well as a criminal database before selling someone a gun.
“It might have saved my son’s life had there been such a registry.”
Another woman, who asked that her name not be used, said her father had been a card-carrying member of the NRA. When physical health issues began to take their toll 10 years ago, her father became despondent and ultimately shot himself in a wooded area behind the family’s home.
While the woman said she was aware while growing up that her father owned a gun, there was little discussion in their home about the handling of guns.
“It wasn’t an open conversation,” the woman said.
She said it never occurred to her to learn how to shoot a gun or how to stow it safely until she was in a situation when a friend of hers was attacked. She then considered getting a gun.
“My leaf-turning moment was when I spoke with a martial arts instructor who told me: ‘Before we teach you to use a gun, we need to teach you how to use your hands and your brain.”
Rather than purchase a gun, the woman studied Aikido and became a black belt. She said it eliminated her anxiety about living alone and having to fend for herself.
“There is a delicate balance once you realize how powerful you are,” the short, petite woman said. “I can hip-turn 150 pounds. I’ve done combat with men 250, 300 pounds and been able to subdue them. You learn to work with whatever skills set you have.”
She has no desire to own a gun and said she supports regulations on the kinds of guns that civilians can own and that there should be strict criminal and mental health background checks.
She is opposed to anyone other than military personnel owning semi-automatic weapons.
‘We wouldn’t use one to shoot a deer up because you couldn’t use the meat. I don’t think people should be having automatic weapons,” the woman said.
“I do wish there was an efficient program or series of steps to qualify someone to buy a weapon instead of people being able to buy guns like candy.”