"... it's not that gun owners are more suicidal"

Jun 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm
"It's that they're more likely to die in the event that they become suicidal, because they are using a gun.”

So is the discovery of the Harvard School of Public Health in their recent report: "Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll"

The report starts with some statistics: "In 2010 in the U.S., 19,392 people committed suicide with guns, compared with 11,078 who were killed by others."

It continues: "Though guns are not the most common method by which people attempt suicide, they are the most lethal. About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm end in death. (Drug overdose, the most widely used method in suicide attempts, is fatal in less than 3 percent of cases.)"

Thus, it's the irreversible result of attempted suicide by gun--attempts usually made, the report says, quickly and without much thought put into it.

It also discusses how the availability of means to suicide, such as highly toxic pesticides, impacts suicide rate:

When widely used lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, as do suicide rates overall. In Sri Lanka, for example, where pesticides are the leading suicide method, the suicide rate fell by half between 1995 and 2005, after the most highly human-toxic pesticides were restricted.

Similarly, in the United Kingdom before the 1950s, domestic gas derived from coal contained 10 to 20 percent carbon monoxide, and poisoning by gas inhalation was the leading means of suicide. A source of natural gas virtually free of carbon monoxide was introduced in 1958; over time, as carbon monoxide in gas decreased, so did the number of suicides overall—driven by a drop in carbon monoxide suicides, even as other methods increased somewhat.

Changing the means by which people try to kill themselves doesn’t necessarily ease the suicidal impulse or even the rate of attempts. But it does save lives by reducing the deadliness of those attempts.

The report gets into race and suicide. It also suggests a potential solution, by having gun shop owners team up with mental health practitioners.