guns and suicide


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General Geoff
April 28, 2011, 05:55 PM
I know there have been threads about this in the distant past, but didn't want to resurrect a years-old thread.

We know that the largest figure of gun related deaths in the United States is suicides, from what I remember well over half the total number on a yearly basis. Antis use this figure as some kind of proof that firearm accessibility leads to greater deaths, in this case from suicides alone. Studies show that firearm accessibility does not lead to more suicide attempts, but merely more successes (as firearms are an exceedingly effective method of ending one's own life). This also leads to the major discrepancy in attempts vs successes in regards to males vs females. Males who are suicidal tend to use highly physical methods of self destruction, such as gunshot wound, jumping off a tall building, driving a car into a brick wall at 90mph, etc. whereas women tend to use drugs, poison, asphyxiation, or exsanguination, all of which are more easily treated/reversed after the attempt, for better or worse.


What this boils down to, is that firearms provide a highly effective means of ending one's own life. This must be acknowledged in order to move on in a logical debate with someone who attempts to use this angle as a reason to restrict private firearm ownership. I submit, however, that suicide is a person's right.

We all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If a person wants to end his or her own life, is it not their prerogative to do so? I know it's often an incredibly selfish act, as it can devastate the lives of those close to the individual, everyone who cares for them. But that doesn't mean it's not their right, if they decide there is no other recourse and are inconsolable. As a friend or someone else close to a suicidal individual it is of course your responsibility to try to talk them out of it, attempt to make them see reason to continue living. But again, at the end, is it not their right to end their own life?

This forces the debate to a higher philosophical level which is often necessary to discern whether an individual is a "true believer," i.e. one who values societal worth over individual liberty. It allows one to evaluate whether a person is a lost cause, and occasionally forces a person to consider their philosophical standpoint where they never had before.

Thoughts, opinions?

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hso
April 28, 2011, 06:03 PM
Normalized suicide rates for the US are not the highest in the world. Several countries with restrictive gun laws have higher rates (not gross counts, but suicides/X population) just by different means. The argument that guns make suicide more likely isn't consistent with real data world wide. Remove guns and the RATE wouldn't change noticeably because other means would be used. The argument that the tool somehow causes the behavior is just as specious with suicides as it is with most other anti arguments to ban firearms.

General Geoff
April 28, 2011, 06:06 PM
The argument that the tool somehow causes the behavior is just as specious with suicides as it is with most other anti arguments to ban firearms.
I agree, the only thing that has any shred of merit is the ease of use of firearms for the deed. What I'm trying to convey is that even if that were the case (and it may very well not be), it's irrelevant. Suicidal people need to be mentally dissuaded, not physically prevented from doing so.

doc540
April 28, 2011, 06:07 PM
most definitive study related to this subject:

pdf file

http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf

enjoy


Want facts? Read the study.

Or do facts count less than internet wrestling? :D

Zundfolge
April 28, 2011, 06:08 PM
What happens is that in places where guns are more readily available, more of the suicides (that arguably would be committed anyway) are committed with guns ... the antis (who live to twist logic) twist that into meaning more guns means more suicides.

To use anti's logic Africans would be considered the safest drivers because they have the least number of fatalities on the highway.

hso
April 28, 2011, 06:24 PM
Firearms are used in a higher percentage of suicides than many other means in the U.S. because of two factors, the assumption of effectiveness (painless, quick and certain) and the availability. The availability of firearms doesn't influence the overall suicide rate and can't, because the overall rate is independent of the means and is instead dependent upon the psychological and social reasons for the suicides. The fact that there are numerous countries that severely restrict access to firearms yet have higher overall rates of suicide than the U.S. bears out the fact that firearms only influence the internal statistics of means of suicide, not the percentage of suicides in a population.

Zundfolge
April 28, 2011, 06:26 PM
IIRC the suicide rate in Japan is significantly higher than here in the US (guess what ... no guns allowed there).

hso
April 28, 2011, 06:29 PM
From the W.H.O.
http://www.who.int/entity/mental_health/media/map_suicide.jpg

Note the countries in RED having rates higher than the U.S. Some have much more restrictive access to firearms than the U.S.

Also note the other countries in YELLOW with more restrictive access to firearms than the U.S.

While the W.H.O. draws the strange conclusion that somehow suicide rates can be influenced by making restricting the means of suicide in the face of their own data and experts arguing that the means don't actually influence the overall rate the maps and data are compelling. Rates of suicide are increasing in many western countries yet we also know that restrictions on firearm access have increased over time as well. Obviously the increase of restrictions on firearms access (amounting to a decreasing rate of access to firearms) hasn't caused a decrease in rate of suicide.

Any argument that firearms are a factor in the overall rate of suicides simply is ignoring the fact that access to firearms only affect the statistics on the means of suicide and not the overall rates or causes of suicides and the most effective means of prevention.

I'l provide a second hand anecdote. My wife worked as a home health physical therapist for many years. She had two young women that were quadriplegics that had attempted to commit suicide with handguns in their parent's homes. Both attempted to commit suicide by shooting themselves in the head. Both had eventually become involved in suicide prevention and both said that ease of access to the firearm had played a role in when they attempted suicide, but wouldn't have affected whether they attempted suicide or not. They were very open with my wife about why they attempted suicide, why they'd chosen the handgun (thought it would be quick and painless and final "like on TV" and were horrified to find it was none of those), and that after becoming suicide prevention advocates that they'd learned that suicides in the U.S. usually tried until they succeeded using different means until they did.

browneu
April 28, 2011, 06:47 PM
My great grandfather commited suicide using a .38 revolver. Not once did I, or anyone else in the family blame the gun or his access to a gun.

He was a head strong man who lived to 77 before he ended his life. A year earlier his wife of over 50 years passed and he found out he had advanced prostate cancer on the anniversary of her death.

He would have ended his life anyway he could if he didn't have access to a gun since he wanted to go out on his terms and not Gods.

I don't condone suicide but it was his decision and none of us could have talked him out of it.

I had a friend take his life when he turned 30. He was gay and his parents never accepted his lifestyle. He always stated that he wouldn't live past 30 and all of us thought he was joking or being cynical.

On his 30th birthday he went into his basement and hanged himself. Looking back he was determined to end his life regardless of what method he'd use. Using anti's logic we should ban rope as it would lower the rate of suicide by hanging.

The anti crowd should talk more about education for the symptoms of depression and suicide rather than target a tool to carry suicide out. Recognizing the symptoms and getting someone professional help before they attempt the act is the greater cure for suicide rates and the anti's would realize that if they really cared about the people they claim to be protecting with their laws.

Zoogster
April 28, 2011, 07:22 PM
Guns play little role in suicide rates.

Parts of the old Soviet Union have the highest suicide rates in the world, and it certainly is not because guns are more prevalent amongst regular people.

Japan with very few firearms has nearly twice the suicide rate of the United States.



Firearms do not play a role in suicide rates because irregardless of the tool used it will not face resistance from the individual losing their life.
Firearms are chosen more when available as the tool, but when not available there is endless other items, most of which you cannot legislate against.


In homicide firearms are a more valid topic of discussion. They make it easier to take a life against the wishes of the individual losing their life (whether they are good or bad, criminal predator or innocent victim). For the same reason they offer equality amongst men and women, young and old, able bodied and otherwise. Without firearms it is the strong, those with martial prowess, and those who are healthy and male, and those that travel in predatory packs, who choose what others will be forced to do or whether they will lose their lives.
With firearms more people participate in the outcome. Without firearms there is no equality.

Loosedhorse
April 28, 2011, 08:12 PM
The argument that guns make suicide more likely isn't consistent with real data world wide.
True, but that's not really the question; the question is would increasing gun restricitons here reduce suicide numbers here. (At lest that's one of the questions.) Those world-wide statistics don't answer the question "Yes," but they also don't say "No."
an ultimate act of selfishness
In some cases, yes. But I am hesitant to classify the "rational suicide" of patients with painful, terminal disease, or the "incompetent" suicide of severely depressed individuals as selfish acts.
What happens is that in places where guns are more readily available, more of the suicides (that arguably would be committed anyway) are committed with guns
There are some studies that suggest that. There are others, like Miller et al. (http://journals.lww.com/jtrauma/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2007&issue=04000&article=00031&type=abstract) that suggest the "availability of guns" is correlated with a higher overall suicide rate. So does Kellermann et al (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199208133270705). And there is a rationale (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/17/health/17risk.html):
Firearms are used in only 5 percent of attempts, the study said, even though, with a 90 percent fatality rate, they cause more than half the deaths. So even a small decline in the number of attempts involving guns could mean many fewer deaths, the researchers said.
most definitive study related to this subject
Who's giving out that "most definitive award"? Others would give it to Miller.
If a person wants to end his or her own life, is it not their prerogative to do so?In some casees, no, it is not their right. Persons below the age of majority. Patients with temporary psychological conditions affecting their judgment.
one who values societal worth over individual liberty
Now, that distinction is the key, IMHO. Is this about rights, or about something else?

Sure, we can and must look at studies that claim firearms increase the overall suicide rate, and find their weaknesses. But we will also find some strengths in those studies...and if we are honest, we have to go into such analysis willing to conclude, if the data and methodology are strong, that firearms availability may increase suicide rate. If we are unwilling to accept that conclusion, no matter what the "data shows," what claim can we have to honesty?

We will have to, IMHO, be willing to say, at some level: "Let's suppose that increased availability of firearms does indeed increase the overall suicide rate. That doesn't matter. Because either:

1. On balance, access to firearms prevents more human harm than it causes; or
2. Even if #1 is NOT true, the RKBA cannot over-ridden by public health concerns.

That last statement is the strongest one against such studies. Are we willing to make that statement?

Talk about "true believers."

Travis McGee
April 28, 2011, 10:16 PM
Ban rope, cars and pills. They make suicide too easy.

What a lame thread. Sheesh.

General Geoff
April 28, 2011, 10:26 PM
Ban rope, cars and pills. They make suicide too easy.

What a lame thread. Sheesh.

I think you missed the point of this thread.

Lord Teapot
April 28, 2011, 10:37 PM
in my view if someone wants to kill themselves, let them kill themselves. dont take my gun away because someone in another county blew his/her brains out.

Gato MontÚs
April 29, 2011, 01:20 AM
1. I believe that individuals are the sole owner of themselves and their destinies. However unfortunate it may be, if someone wants to terminate their existence that is there right to do so.

2. I was a psych major in college. Suicides, methods of suicide, and prevention was talked about frequently. My experience may not hold true for all, but between the instructors and the text books not a one brought up limiting access to anything in order to prevent; instead, the focus was on community outreach and support. In their eyes, a suicide is a consequence of psycho sociological factors of the individual which does not factor in access to means. Decision on what means they wish to kill themselves with comes after the decision is made to commit suicide.

3. Firearms are en efficient was of ending ones life, but as mentioned is not the only way. Since people will continue to kill themselves whether firearms are available or not, I much rather them choose a method that they can do in the vicinity of their own home instead of risking the live of others (ie; jumpers, car crashers, etc).

One of the saddest things I've ever read about was a man who tried to commit suicide with a shotgun. They didn't go into explicit detail, but somehow he screwed up, taking most of his face off but missing almost all of the brain. This man survived, but not before multiple surgeries, slipping into a coma, and awaking into a living hell. I mean this man could barely talk, hear, had no eyes so couldn't see. Rendered completely useless, locked away in a mental institute where even if he wanted to, he could not try again. And tell me how this is ethical, a man who wanted to die now has an even better reason to end his life, and cannot because other people are forcing his existence upon him?

dirtykid
April 29, 2011, 01:52 AM
A man in his 50's recently committed suicide just down the street from me at a rail-road crossing,witness's said he pulled up to line of cars parked waiting,left his car running and proceeded to run towards the train,diving under the wheels of a freight-car.
I know there are at least 9-people that will never forget that day.
M yfather committed suicide (essentialy) After suffering multiple strokes and being diagnosed with alzheimers we had to put him in "nursing home" and after acouple months the damage to his body somehow paralyzed his throat muscles,and when asked about his "terminal-care procedures he clearly staed "you aint gonna put no $#@$ tubes in me, They kept him hydrated ,but he couldnt take in nourishment essentialy starving himself to death.
I know for a fact he would have choose a gun instead of that painfull demise.
I've told my wife and kids repaetedly dont EVER put me in a "home" let me go my way when im ready.

Eaglestroker
April 29, 2011, 02:08 AM
One of the saddest things I've ever read about was a man who tried to commit suicide with a shotgun. They didn't go into explicit detail, but somehow he screwed up, taking most of his face off but missing almost all of the brain. This man survived, but not before multiple surgeries, slipping into a coma, and awaking into a living hell. I mean this man could barely talk, hear, had no eyes so couldn't see. Rendered completely useless, locked away in a mental institute where even if he wanted to, he could not try again. And tell me how this is ethical, a man who wanted to die now has an even better reason to end his life, and cannot because other people are forcing his existence upon him?


I will say this - once you have been through this with family your ideas may change. Not justifying anything one way or another but from my direct experience usually some sort of mind altering drugs were also involved. Our situation doesn't involve a mental institute but was a similar attempt with a high powered rifle. He now wants to do some public speaking but not before another two to three years of surgeries.

As abrasive as this may sound I have no pity myself - the ultimate of selfish acts. I don't care to argue with anyone ignorant enough to blame it on the firearm.

Gato MontÚs
April 29, 2011, 02:47 AM
As abrasive as this may sound I have no pity myself - the ultimate of selfish acts. I don't care to argue with anyone ignorant enough to blame it on the firearm.

Not abrasive. When you love or care very deeply about someone, whether it be your spouse, sibling, parent or friend, that person becomes a part of you. The very definition of your existence is in part defined by those you surround yourself with. In turn, you also become a pert of them. If this person, under these circumstances, decides to destroy themselves, they do so after throwing away considerations for those who love them. This is an act of complete and utter selfishness, disregarding the hurt and pain caused to those around them. Understandably, it's difficult to forgive such a brazen act.

There was another example where an elderly couple took their own lives together in their own home. They had been retired for some time, had no children of their own and felt that they have lived the good life, They were satisfied with what they had achieved in their time, and in the looming shadow of health complications and limitations to their lives, decided to end it peacefully. Instead of draining their resources on medical expenses, they instead donated all of their possessions and savings to various charity organizations.

Would you consider this selfish? More altruistic if anything. My point is that a suicide is not a suicide is not a suicide, just like a shooting is not a shooting. Their character is defined by the context, so in order to have this discussion we can't simply point out a bad example and paint everything in that light.

Now, getting to the root of this discussion, I'd say the Second amendment does a good job defining suicide. If we are to agree that an individual has a god given right to self preservation; a right to defend against those who wish to impose their will upon us, and we define a right as an action that is optional or voluntarily preformed (not imposed), then the right to self destruction would come as default. If we are truley the masters of our own destiny, then the right to terminate ourselves goes without saying.

Therefore, it does not matter the influence availability of firearms have on suicide, fore in the end suicide is a right, no matter the circumstances.

LawScholar
April 29, 2011, 02:53 AM
I work for a liberal department at a university (resident assistant). I get to hear the guns--->suicide correlation every year in training. They always get miffed when I rebut it with logical, factual arguments, and move on without responding to me.

It's gotten to the point where everyone in the department knows I'm the 'gun guy', and they know better than to engage me on it because I'm more informed than any of the mindless anti drones in my workplace and I argue them to a standstill pretty quickly.

The best part about being so outspoken about it is that I find co-workers who are "closet" pro-gun and we go shoot together. :)

azmjs
April 29, 2011, 06:27 AM
Have you convinced anyone? You should, as a rule, be less concerned with "proving you're right" and more concerned with convincing people you're right.

All the 'proof' in the world goes only so far. If your priorities are wrong, you'll still end up being "that RA kid who reallllly loves his guns. *roll eyes"

Don't take this the wrong way, I don't mean it in any mean-spiritedness. We're all entitled to our misspent youths ;)

Loosedhorse
April 29, 2011, 09:04 AM
I get to hear the guns--->suicide correlation every year in training. They always get miffed when I rebut it with logical, factual arguments
Perhaps you would share those arguments with us?
I don't care to argue with anyone ignorant enough to blame it on the firearm.
Let's suppose, just for the moment, that limiting firearms access actually does prevent some suicides. Is recognizing that the same as blaming the firearm?
in the end suicide is a right
So, a person is temporarily, irrationally depressed. Their judgment is impaired. That person has a right to decide to kill himself, even if he can't make rational decisions? Does that right pertain to individuals under 18? Because they commit suicide with guns, too.

My sincere sympathies to all those who have dealt with friends or family members who have suicided (or tried to). There is such a thing as rational suicide, but that's not what most teenage and young adult suicides are.

WardenWolf
April 29, 2011, 10:15 AM
Guns don't encourage suicides, but they DO increase the likelihood that a suicide attempt will be successful. If you lump in attempted suicides along with successful suicides, you'll find it has zero effect on suicide rate, but does have an effect on suicide success. There's mixed opinions on this, though; a failed suicide attempt can leave a person with serious personal injuries, including brain damage or agonizing physical injuries, or just result in their life getting messed up worse than ever before. It can, in fact, just add to the person's misery while also ensuring they no longer have a way out. On the other hand, a failed attempt can allow a person's life to be saved and get them the help they need, or simply give them the needed change of perspective.

If a person's going to do it, they're going to do it. There's lots of other ways to guarantee death besides a gun, though. In areas with high bridges, these bridges are often infamous for being suicide points. And nobody restricts propane camping heaters, despite their being a ready source of carbon monoxide.

I've known many people with mental health issues over the years, including one who I honestly wouldn't blame if he killed himself. I've known him for 14 years, and I've come to realize that there's a point where you've suffered enough and you just have nothing left to fight with anymore. He's on full disability. I refuse to give up on any of my friends, but I've come to accept that, for someone in his position, it's entirely his choice and I won't judge him either way.

elkdomBC
April 29, 2011, 11:55 AM
when you stand 4 feet away from someone who puts a 12 gauge to their face and pulls the trigger, and the spatter becomes part of what you are now wearing? when the "smell of vaporized flesh and gunpowder?, lingers vividly in your mind for 30+ years, when you see the wife and children devastated and horrified ?,
this the culmination of a few too many beers, loss of job, a domestic argument about money(re-poe'd car), and a handy box of 00 and pump gun,
irrational yes, explainable no,

I do not not condemn someone distraught, suffering depression, but I cannot condone heaping horror on the rest of the world because of ones own burdens,

no one has the answer

CraigC
April 29, 2011, 12:19 PM
No one can deny the horror of the result but like I said, no understanding of what led up to it. Other than what lies on the surface.

JShirley
April 29, 2011, 12:35 PM
1. This is an understandably emotional issue for many people. We have probably all known at least one person who committed suicide.

2. Many people feel the need to talk about suicide instead of about whether the presence of a firearm increases the risk of suicide, which is what this thread is about. Debating whether sucide is moral, selfish, or whatever, should be done elsewhere.

Because of the combination of 1 & 2, this one is being closed.

John

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