On his weekly radio appearance Friday, Mayor Bloomberg attempted to divert the conversation away from a series of tragic shootings in New York by linking his city’s low suicide rate to their strict gun control laws. “The rate of suicide in New York City is almost half of what it is in the country on average,” he said. “And most of that comes from the difficulty in getting a gun.” What Mayor Mike probably doesn’t know is . . .

For years Dr. John Lott has been doing highly detailed studies of guns and crime, taking into account police department staffing and methods, conviction rates, sentencing, drug prices and availability. In all, he includes more than a dozen variables to show that more guns equal less crime. Mayor Bloomberg has dismissed these studies and others like them as being “obviously flawed” and “failing to take into account” all the different variables which go into crime rates.

And yet somehow the simple correlation of strict gun control with lower suicide rates in New York City is sufficient for him to tout those gun laws as the primary causation for the city’s low suicide rates. But is there contrary evidence out there? Indeed there is and it took this OFWG less than two minutes to find it. A quick stop at GunPolicy.org provides us with some gun information.

  • Japan has 0.6 firearms per 100 people
  • Russia has 8.9 firearms per 100 people
  • The United States has 88.8 firearms per 100 people

Also give us a U.S. suicide rate in 2008 of 11.96 per 100,000 people. Figures for Russia and Japan are available but more than 10 years old. However, Googling japan suicide rate 2011 brings up this article which tells us that,

Japan has long battled a high suicide rate. At 24.4 suicides per 100,000 people, the country ranked second in 2009 among the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations after Russia’s 30.1, according to the World Health Organization.

So when you boil it all down, here’s what’s left in the pot:

Country Guns per 100 Suicides per 100,000
Japan 0.6 24.4
Russia 8.9 30.1
USA 88.8 11.96

Whaddaya know? There isn’t even any correlation between firearm access and suicide rates, much less causation. Now anyone who knows me can tell you that I am loathe to cast aspersions but in this case I think I have to say: Mayor Mike, you’re either a moron or a liar. Or your vision has been so narrowed that you are unable to perceive events except through your antigun-colored glasses. That is all.

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28 Responses to Convenient Causation: Mayor Mike on NYC Suicides

  1. Is mike channeling FDR with a weekly fireside chat on the radio? Gosh I hope they don’t record these and play them for school children. It seems this story is on the heels of the high profile reports of people carrying in NYC and the attention HR 822 is bringing to Gotham.
    My question is will Blommy be mayor for life or is there a way to unseat him for a cigar smoking, burger eating, gun owning, old fashion pol that merely takes from the productive and gives to the non-productive without getting in anyone’s business.

  2. Another problem with anything coming from the mouth of super-“Yente”. Crime statistics in New York city have been cooked for years.

    • Maybe he doesn’t want to encourage tourists.
      New York, with all of its tall buildings and bridges, makes a perversely attractive place to kill oneself. Through suicidal eyes, the skyline can appear to be “a lot of opportunities to die from heights,” says Gary Spielmann, the former director of suicide prevention for the New York State Office of Mental Health.
      http://nymag.com/news/features/46811/index1.html

  3. From your brief analysis I would infer it’s all about cultural diversity. NYC has every other tool for suicide. His simplistic, framing blather is insulting.

  4. Bruce,
    I can’t stand Bloomberg for a lot of reasons, but shouldn’t your argument focus on the suicide rate of NYC vs. the rest of the U.S., and how gun policies may or may not interact with them? To me, introducing international data, while interesting and compelling, seems to take you off target. IMHO.

    • Hizzonner was trying to argue causation; strict control = low suicide. Using int’l examples allows me to choose from a wider range of numbers. I like using Japan as a contrast for its relatively high suicide rate with low firearms ownership rates. Finding Russia in the same story was just gravy.

  5. There’s that old adage that “a man wrapped up in himself is a very small package” and that seems to fit for Mayor Bloomberg, with his whole oblivious to anything that is contrary to his agenda motif.

  6. The idea that the availability of guns affects the suicide rate in a Nation is just fear-mongering at the worst level. When you think about it, it has been shown time and again that all arguments for gun control are essentially based on playing to gut-level fear and emotionalism. Bloomberg is one of the masters of this tactic.
    Japan has culturally had a long, long history of regarding suicide as an acceptable form of personal and cultural expression. Russia inherits acceptability of suicide from the history of the Soviet Union where alcoholism and suicide became a personally acceptable alternative for a despairing and oppressed Nation.
    In the U.S., suicide is regarded as an unacceptable and tragic “last resort” and has no social acceptance in the general population, American people generally have empathy and sympathy for those the suicidal person leaves behind (and often for the person who committed the act).
    People like New York’s Mayor cravenly grasp that straw to play upon the empathy and sympathy the American public feels for the suicide victim and their survivors and ties it to the availability of guns to manufacture an anti-gun “argument” that is baseless and spurious.
    When the people of New York City wake-up to the truth of this kind of tactic, maybe they will finally “throw the rascals out”.
    Me, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

  7. And to think that this guy is thinking of, or recently thought of, running for POTUS. As if Americans would ever vote for an elitist left-wing nanny-state incompetent. Oops…

  8. If someone were to commit suicide, isn’t it better if they used a gun in their own home rather than jumping in front of a subway (as some NYers are known to do)?

  9. Suicide stats are very unreliable. There are Medical Examiners who will classify suicides as accidental or undetermined if the person’s religion frowns upon suicide (such as Catholicism) or if the family needs another cause for insurance purposes.

    I find it interesting that in a city where gun ownership is mostly banned, there are still enough guns availble for people to off-themselves. I guess Bloomies Gun Control doesn’t work.

  10. New York is committing “suicide by mayor.” That’s gotta count for something.

    And if, like me, you think that Major Blamebag is a douchebag, wait until he’s replaced by an even bigger douchebag. These are the good old days, New York New York.

    • Every so often a halfway decent one, at least by NYC standards, slips through.

      For all his numerous faults, anti-gun nonsense among them, Giuliani did a hell of a lot of good for the city.

      It remains to be seen whether the place ends up with a bigger or slightly smaller douchebag. My money is actually on smaller, if the scrawlings I’ve seen in cabs in the city of late are any indication.

  11. Wait ’till Apple decides to create a financial trading information system, finally providing an alternative to a Bloomberg terminal (ca 25,000 per year lease rate) as Reuters once did. Then will see who’s condemning suicidal thoughts as he walks among all those tall buildings. Now penthouse apartments with rooftop gardens…that’s the risky thing. Better ban those post haste….

  12. There might be a correlation if gun access is compared within a “culture” or simalar social context.
    Then again, NYC is not similar to my Wisconsin.
    Never mind.

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