Saturday, September 12, 2015

Gun massacres garner all of the headlines, but statistically gun suicides account for far more fatalities.

Courtesy of The New York Times:  

The grisly carnage from mass shootings regularly attracts the nation’s focus as a public safety issue, if only fleetingly. But the highest death toll from guns by far continues to be the far less noticed wave of suicides — nearly 20,000 a year — by Americans whose easy access to guns presents an irresistible temptation in a critical moment of despair. 

Suicide accounts for two-thirds of the 30,000-plus gun deaths each year, as more than half of all suicides are carried out by firearms, according to the latest federal data. 

If it takes a sensational statistic to spur national concern about such self-destruction, consider the latest research showing that 82 percent of teenage suicides by firearms involve guns left poorly secured or foolishly unprotected by members of their families. These young lives are impulsively lost in supposedly safe home environments, where just the presence of a gun has been found to increase the risk of suicide three times, according to a new report by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun safety organization. 

The report also notes that 85 percent of people attempting suicide by gun succeed, while drug overdose, the main method chosen for suicide attempts, is fatal only 2 percent of the time. Ninety percent of those who fail in a suicide attempt embrace their second chance at life and do not eventually die by suicide.

As somebody who has worked the hotline and dealt with people going through depression, I can certainly attest to the fact that surviving suicide has less to do with access to therapeutic intervention than it does to the lack of access to guns.

I have taken the call from a person who took prescription medication and needed help. They lived.

But the person with the gun rarely takes the time to call. And if they do it is often only so that somebody can listen to bang as they end their pain.

I knew a young woman whose first and last day manning the phones involved such an incident.

I am all for making it harder to get assault style weapons (What kind of idiot needs one of those anyhow?), and increasing the number and effectiveness of background checks, but I also would like to see laws passed that held people accountable for injuries and deaths caused by guns that they own.

If you have a gun laying around your house, easily accessible, and somebody uses it to take a life, even their own, then you do jail time. Period.

And yes I know that when people talk suicide that the knee jerk reaction from gun nuts is to start talking for the need to increase mental health services. But let me explain that most gun suicides are due to temporary depression, and NOT long term mental illness.

You could throw trillions of dollars into funding mental illness (And I wish they would because I could use a raise.), and it will do NOTHING to stop people from killing themselves or others with guns.

No you stop gun deaths by reducing the number of guns, and holding gun owners accountable for the violence caused by their guns. In my opinion it is as simple as that.


  1. Anonymous6:26 AM

    My best friends son shot himself in the head last year. His 17 year old daughter found him (way to go dad). His suicide ruined my friends life and her grand daughters. I worry about my own son. He suffers from extreme anxiety and stress - and he owns a gun. He lives 1,000 miles away. Nothing I can do about either situation. I'd love a world with no guns

  2. Sharon7:14 AM

    I totally agree with you about the mental health funding, guns are the real problem...always were and always will be. I know it will never happen but I have always thought making "gun insurance" mandatory would go along way in making someone to think twice about how bad they need that gun. The cost of the aftermath of these shootings are in the millions, not to mention the life changing physical disabilities if result isn't actual death. Families & communities torn apart forever....for what? The greedy immoral manufacturers laughing all the way to the bank thanking the NRA and our bought & paid for politicians. The data shows gun ownership in this country is higher than anywhere else in the world....but the truth is it is concentrated in small pockets, meaning less people own tons of guns. Chris Rock had a great idea making bullets cost thousands instead of guns making you think twice about who you shoot. No matter how you slice it...guns=death and it is a national disgrace. Maybe if our politicians concentrated on gun laws instead of abortion or immigration something would get done.

  3. A. J. Billings7:23 AM

    I disagree with a couple of things here Gryphen, I wish we could talk about this over a beer or four.

    Yes, people with young kids in the house, or mentally ill folks around them should have to lock up their weapons. It's inexecusable not to, and they should pay with hard time and fines.

    But if I have weapons in my house, and someone breaks in and steals them, and then shoots someone, I don't think I should be liable.

    On the aspect of suicide, the reason that so many people kill themselves with firearms, is at least partly related to the fact that we have laws preventing access to legal, pharaceutical ways to do that.

    Those laws are based on religion, specifically the Christian based belief system that suicide is a bad thing, and should be illegal, and society should make every effort to keep it harder to do.

    While I understand that some people (especially younger folks) may try it out of questionable motives, for elderly people, it should be a no brainer to allow someone who's old, failing, and suffering to have easy access to a termination cocktail.

    If and or when I get old enough, or sick enough, or totally disabled, it should my right to die when I want, and to not have to resort to a .45 caliber handgun.

    In a society based on science, facts, and critical thinking we should allow some groups of people the right to a glass of nembutol when they want it.

    Religion based laws are the bane of human existence

    1. Anonymous8:37 AM

      And I do think you should be liable.

    2. Anonymous9:15 AM

      If someone steals your car and dies when they wreck it, or kills someone else, should you be liable? If someone steals money from you and uses it to buy heroin and dies from it, should you be liable?

      How about we put the blame where it belongs, on the person who made the conscious decision to break the law?

    3. Anonymous9:21 AM

      If a cop loses his gun, should he be liable?

      How about a cop has his gun taken and is shot with it? Should he be liable for being shot?

    4. Crystal Sage11:05 AM

      I believe that there should be insurance required on any purchase of a gun. It should be treated as one would a vehicle. That alone might discourage someone hell-bent on revenge or to commit suicide. So-called "responsible gun owners" (I'm sure there are many of them) would not have a problem with this. How many times do we have to read that a child got hold of an unattended, loaded gun and killed himself or others? And, like drivers, a new gun owner would have to take (and pass) a mandatory gun safety course. NRA brainwashed people are constantly comparing autos to guns as if there is no other purpose for a car than to kill. They are trying to muddy the issue by making false comparisons. If they want to use gun vs. car as their argument, then they should be all for mandatory insurance and user licensing for, especially, hand gun owners.

  4. A huge part of the teen-shoots-himself (because it's usually a he, not a she) is that parents are convinced THEIR kid is different. Years ago, a local news station did a quick and unscientific study. They put kids in a room with a couple of unloaded guns. Their parents, who were convinced that their kids knew not to touch a gun at all, were watching behind a one-way mirror. Every single one of the kids picked up a gun.

    On a slightly more recent event, in Marysville, Washington, there was a school shooting by a boy who "was a hunter" whose "father took him hunting and taught him about gun safety." And when he was in emotional distress, he took that gun to school and shot five kids- including himself- and only one survived (not the shooter).

    And the family of the shooter kept saying that they didn't know what happened, he was trained in gun safety, he was a hunter, they've always had guns... etc., etc.

    A huge part of the problem are the parents who are convinced that it won't happen with THEIR kid. THEY'VE trained their kid right. THEIR kid knows gun safety. They don't see the difference between their kid knowing gun safety, and the fact that the kid might choose not to use gun safety. Because kids are, by definition, immature, and by definition, can make bad decisions in the throes of emotion. (This is not limited to children, because adults can be controlled by emotion too, but in that case it's because they're assholes.)

    I think there should be severe penalties for anyone who owns a gun that is used in the commission of a crime or a suicide. Because the gun should be secured in a way that nobody can reach it in a moment of anger or despair.

  5. Anonymous10:18 AM

    Read this:

  6. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Suicide is not a crime. It is sad and devastating to the survivors, but not a crime. We lost our young adult son to suicide almost 3 years ago. He was not a criminal then nor considered one now. He was not depressed but went through a series of difficult events one evening( not illegal) and acted very impulsively. It was devastating beyond words for our family but we know it was his decision and act.....not ours. He used his father's handgun. The gun was properly licensed and stored. How is it that his father is now a criminal? How was he irresponsible? I agree with anonymous 9:15. We no longer have that particular gun but we have others and I am a strong background check advocate but still believe guns (not assault rifles) should remain legal.

  7. Anonymous4:39 PM

    We, as a society, need to have a conversation about Suicide, the warning signs, and the statistics of the methods used and why. We had three in my immediate family, and I don't know what's worse, the stigma over the act, blaming it on long term mental illness, and even the stupidity some people display by calling the person a coward.
    Education is key. Having guns available may make the person feel his pain will go away quickly, but it solves nothing.


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