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Suicides and Guns — 3 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this article. I think many of us already knew that the mere presence of a firearm does not suddenly create an irresistible urge to use it on ourselves. I had read an article about the effects the gun ban had in Australia (the conclusion of that article was much in line with the conclusions posted on this site just recently). Prior to the ban, the rate of suicide in Australia was on a steady decline. After the Aussie gun ban, the rate of suicide by firearm began to decrease more rapidly. I was a bit surprised, but then read that the rate of suicide by other means actually increased, offsetting the lives saved from the gun ban. Bottom line…guns do not drive people to suicide – it’s a mental health issue. And if someone is that determined to kill themselves, they will find a way, even if no gun is available.

  2. As a mental health professional and gun owner, I can tell you that there is a serious problem of older white males in committing suicides with guns. Some rural states have started programs wherein friends will reach out to friends during times of crisis and ask to temporarily store the firearms at their house, somewhat akin to “friends don’t let friends drive drunk”. I think all gun owners need to be educated about the signs/symptoms of depression and how to do interventions.

    • Thanks for the note, and your suggestion for storing guns for other people is wise (I know of someone going through a tough divorce while young who surrendered his guns to friends for the duration).

      I did a quick check at WISQARS, which provide an metro/non-metro breakdown, which is a rough proxy for urban/non-urban. I ran the numbers for white males over age 50.

      The overall suicide rate (regardless of means) is higher for non-metro areas (see table below). I believe that the general lack of daily human interaction in rural areas (isolation) is a chief contributing factor for the desire to commit suicide, and that since rural people have a high gun ownership rate, it is their means of choice for committing the act.

      A good contrast (and I do not know where to find the numbers) would be with Canada, which has vast stretches of rural lands and a lower national gun ownership rate. I have a hunch (and it is only a hunch) that we would see similar ratios for overall suicide rates given the historically similar suicide rates of the two countries.

      Metro Areas 23.51
      Non-metro Areas 31.49

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