Lindsey Encinias thought of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” when her father died.
Encinias’ father took his life with a gun in Arlington on Nov. 10, 1998. He was almost 51. Encinias was 17 years old, and her father was the person she relied on the most.
“He was where I passed go to collect my $200 to figure out which way to turn,” she said. Years later, the Frisco resident still thinks of her father when she hears Taylor’s song about losing his childhood friend to suicide.
I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend.
But I always thought that I’d see you again.
Losing her father to suicide was a shock for Encinias and her family. It’s why she helps other families heal after losing a loved one in Collin County.
For families who are affected by a suicide, the loss — and the grief — are most often a private affair. And that, perhaps, masks a disturbing fact. Suicides account for a significant number of the gun-related deaths in North Texas and across the nation.
A KERA analysis found that guns were involved in the majority of suicides in North Texas in the first half of 2022.
Nicole Golden is the executive director of Texas Gunsense, a nonprofit that advocates for policies that reduce gun violence and deaths. She said the impact of gun violence goes beyond homicides.
“Firearm suicide is part of the crisis of gun violence,” Golden said.
Collin County had 63 suicides, and 44 involved a gun. Tarrant County had 146 suicides the first half of the year — 82 of the victims used a gun. Dallas County also had 146 suicides, and 86 involved a gun.
Most of the gun-related suicides were white men. A KERA analysis of data from the Collin County medical examiner’s office found that white men made up roughly 70% of gun suicides and roughly 20% of the county’s population.
White men are disproportionately represented in gun-related suicides in other North Texas counties too. Roughly one out of every ten Dallas residents are white men, but they account for roughly half of the county’s gun suicides. About 3 out of 5 gun suicides in Tarrant County were white men, but white men make up about 17% of the county’s population.
Collin County had seven gun-related deaths that were ruled homicides from January through June — dramatically fewer than Dallas County, which had 146 gun-related homicides during that time, and Tarrant County, which had 64. Even taking into account Collin County’s much smaller population, its per capita gun homicide rate for the first half of the year was much lower as well. This could be attributed to crime patterns in a more suburban county versus counties that have large urban population centers.