Mary McClain: Mental health and firearms | TheUnion.com

Mary McClain: Mental health and firearms

Parable – a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.

As to the publisher's piece "A sad, dark parable," we see a lesson related to brain changes and firearms. The 82-year-old gentleman who shot and killed his friend and caregiver "was showing signs of delusion" to friends. He had called authorities "about prowlers who almost certainly did not exist".

When a person is acting out of character and not in touch with reality, we should be asking about firearms. Family, friends, caregivers, and health professionals have a role to play. Authorities responding to such calls can perform a basic screening and support the ill person and loved ones in making choices that keep everyone safe.

Brain-related health problems are common. Whether dementia, brain cancer, post-stroke impairments or oxygen deprivation to the brain due to lung ailments — all of these can cause a person to behave in ways totally inconsistent with their history and personality. It's a public health issue. As a county with one of the oldest demographics of elders, we need to educate and support each other in screening appropriately for firearms in the hands of people living with brain disorders.

Mary McClain

Grass Valley