Worried About Having a Gun in the House with My Father's Mental Health Issues

Published: December 14, 2016
Dear TeenHealthFX,

I have a really complicated problem. My dad's borderline personality disorder has gotten worse, and we really need help. He was diagnosed before I was even born and never admitted it. My mom is only now coming around to acknowledging it and sees that my dad is out of control, but doesn't know what to do about it. Now this is where things get really tricky. My parents need to keep a gun because we live in a rural area where the police cannot always come immediately. The permit for the gun has expired, and if the wrong people hear of my dad's condition, then he won't be able to get another gun. The statement about his borderline personality disorder never made it to our current insurance records because there was a different company before I was born and that psychologist retired. My mom has a valid point and I want my parents to be able to keep their gun just in case, but I can't take my dad's harassment and violent outbursts anymore. - We need help, but need a gun too

Signed: Worried About Having a Gun in the House with My Father's Mental Health Issues

Dear Worried About Having a Gun in the House with My Father's Mental Health Issues,

TeenHealthFX can definitely appreciate the complexity of this problem given you are left with a difficult choice of deciding whether you are more at risk in having a gun in the home because of how unstable your father is right now or you are more at risk of being the victim of a crime due to possible actions from someone outside of the home. If you feel that right now having the gun in the home based on your father’s mental state is more of a risk, then it is important to have the gun removed from the home. You could have an adult relative or adult friend of the family who has a firearms purchaser ID card take the gun from the home. You could also look into having an alternate home protection device, such as having a CO2 or dry chemical fire extinguisher. 

FX thinks that one of the best things you can do is to talk this over with a trusted adult so that you can get the support and guidance you need as you figure out how to deal with this complicated situation. You could speak to a school counselor, teacher or principal. You could also speak to your family doctor or someone with local law enforcement. There are trusted adults around you who may have ideas on how to deal with the gun situation, as well as how to intervene in a way where your father seeks out help for his mental health issues and you get the emotional support you need based on the situation at home that you are dealing with. It may feel scary to think of talking to other people about these issues, but the most important thing to consider is the safety of you and your family. 

You might also consider reaching out to a national hotline if you would like the opportunity to discuss this situation with someone anonymously. While you have not indicated anything about being physically or sexually abused, it does sound like you are feeling frightened and concerned for your physical well-being in your home. That said, you can call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) then push 1 to talk to a hotline counselor. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The hotline counselors work with translators who speak more than 200 languages to help callers who speak a language other than English. All calls are anonymous. (The hotline counselors don’t know who you are and you don’t have to tell them.).

Signed: TeenHealthFX