Convenient Causation: Mayor Mike on NYC Suicides

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.