Lindsay Lohan (courtesy gossipcop.com)

Gun control advocates heart firearms-related suicide stats. They constantly lump them in with firearms-related homicide data to double the number of “gun deaths” in the U.S. The antis also portray guns as suicide enablers; depressed people wouldn’t be able to kill themselves so easily if they didn’t have “easy access” to firearms. A new study from the Centers for Disease Prevention (Suicide Among Adults Aged 35–64 Years — United States, 1999–2010) reveals some new, not-entirely-helpful-to-the-gun-grabbers’ information about firearms-related suicides. The New York Times story on the report breezes over the relevant data (‘natch). Not us . . .

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 10.24.49 AM

(courtesy cdc.org)

Notice that guns as a suicide “mechanism” have increased by the smallest percentage. “Suffocation” and “Other” are number one and two without a bullet in terms of percentage increase. Blame the pain pill epidemic  for the soaring number of poisonings.

Add-up the three listed non-firearm suicide mechanisms can you discover that they account for more suicides than firearms.

For perspective, also consider the fact that Japan (a “gun free zone”) had a 21.7 per 100k suicide rate in 2012 (including all age groups). The U.S. ranks number 33 on the international list of suicide stats, well behind both Japan and “gun free” New Zealand.

The antis don’t care about facts. They reckon if they save one life by eliminating your Constitutional right to keep and bear arms it’s worth it. Even if the number of lives lost as a result—through criminal predation or government persecution—is greater than the number of lives saved.

Still, if they’re so concerned about “gun deaths” why don’t they create government programs to address suicide—without discouraging gun owners from seeking help by automatically removing the gun rights? Yes, there is that.

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62 Responses to The Truth About Firearms and Suicide

  1. I’m a little confused by this… the NYT article doesn’t mention guns, or gun deaths. It simply discusses the rising trend of suicide, the groups most affected and the methods that are increasing the most. I’m all for bashing the NYT, but this doesn’t seem to be about guns one way or another.

    Edit: Also, to the point in your last paragraph, I’m pretty sure that’s what Australia did… around the time they passed their gun ban (1997) they implemented suicide prevention measures, such as more readily available anti-depressants. I’m not positive on this and a quick google search doesn’t turn anything up.

    • I think robert is pointing out that nyt skipped over mentioning the gun stats because it doesn’t support the gun grabbers argument about suicide by gun.

    • I did some research a couple months ago to refute some bogus statistics. What I recall for Australia is that they’ve had a steadily decreasing suicide rate for some 30 years now that they attribute to their suicide prevention programs. They passed their draconian gun laws in ’97 (IIRC) & I could see no dramatic change when looking at the graph of suicide rates over the years that would indicate a sudden reduction in suicides due to the gun bans.

      A few years ago, the numbers I found showed that gun suicides in AUS dropped 40% the year following the ban while hangings (or other asphyxiation) rose by 60%, iirc.

  2. The point made in this post is an important one that is predictably ignored by the disarmament crowd, but I don’t think New Zealand is the best example of a “gun free” country.

  3. The only story you’ll hear from the liberal press here is, “suicide by gun up.” Addressing they underlying issue of suicide goes against their ideology. If you blame the gun you deny the underlying illness. Illness is scary. Perhaps you too could become inflicted. No. You’re completely safe as long as you stay away from those scary guns. Placing blame on the individual instead of the inanimate object makes you face up to your own shortcomings – the evil within us all.

  4. Not to go off-topic here, but how shallow of Hollywood elite to use guns as props. “Do as I say, not as I do”.

    • If I remember correctly lohans photoshoot when that pic was taken she also did some see through shirt no bra pics too. Ah I feel the cold sores coming just thinking about it.

    • The other question here is; If her automatic was actually LOADED and she fired it off, would anyone care?

  5. Ireland and Canada, two nations that are similar in culture to America, also have suicide rates much like ours, despite their strict gun control.

  6. Y’know, when my nephew kicked it he used a rope instead of the 1911 by the door.

    Hmmm…

    • A good friend of mine hung himself with a wire. It was in Florida, where guns are easy to acquire but wires are easier and cheaper.

      It’s sad that anyone would want to go out so violently.

  7. Suicide is a serious problem. I find it morally and intellectually bankrupt that people want to pretend that somehow background checks, magazine capacity restrictions, or weapons bans reduce suicide. Mentally ill people need to be identified and see a doctor, not the magic wand of gun control.

  8. I had two sisters once. Now I have but one. The other shot herself in the chest with a handgun. I did not attend her funeral. But I cannot and will not blame the gun.

  9. The topic of suicide itself is a touchy one. Maybe the ultimate rights arguement: you didn’t decide to bring yourself into this world, should you be able to take yourself out of it? Very deep moral and legal questions there. Philosophy aside, I’ve seen and known quite a few suicides, they are always tragic stories with many grieving people left behind…

  10. Having worked as a crime scene deputy for several years, I know that when a person is serious about killing them-self , they will find a way. Any way. I once saw guy kill himself with a payphone in the jail. Put the cord around his neck and slid off the bench.

  11. “why don’t they create government programs to address suicide”

    The last thing we need is another government program. How about we point out that most of these societal ills were lower before the Gun Control Act of 68 & the National Firearms Act of 34. When you could get a full auto Tommy gun in the mail, people were not killing themselves or each other the way they are now.

  12. I am an enthusiastic owner of firearms. I have also been diagnosed with ‘clinical depression with suicidal tendencies’. I have been on medication, and been to therapy, and did not find it helpful. I struggle with thoughts of suicide on a regular basis. Some would say that I should not be allowed to own firearms; I would tell those people to mind their own business. As a younger person who was not allowed to own a handgun without my parents’ permission, I did extensive research on the quickest and most painless way to take myself out of the picture, and went so far as to do some prep work. Since maturing and undergoing some life changes, I no longer fear that I will actually commit suicide, it is simply an unhappy part of my life that I struggle with. In my particular case, it is true that a gun makes it easier to commit suicide. It is also true that a determined person will not be deterred by whether or not a gun is readily available. I know I wasn’t. Owning guns at this stage in my life brings my joy and peacefulness – joy from the joy of shooting; from the ability to use, care for, and appreciate a complicated feat of engineering; peacefulness from knowing I can protect those dear to me if need be. In a world with precious little joy and peacefulness as it is, to take away someone’s rights because you think they might hurt themselves (intentionally and of their own free will) is tyrannical. I believe it is everyone’s right to choose for themselves whether they wish to smoke, drink, do drugs, raise children, own a home, be a mechanic, wear a dress, or yes, remove themselves from the realm of the living. If the pursuit of happiness means taking your own life, I think that an individual should be allowed to make that choice.
    All that being said, I think most people who are suicidal (myself included) don’t really want to die, they just don’t particularly like living. Many things can help, including therapy, medication, friends, career changes, and the list goes on. Young people should be encouraged to utilize every resource to make these changes in their life. I’m happy to say I am much better off than I was at 18. And it angers me every time I hear anyone say that gun-related suicides are somehow a good reason to restrict the basic rights of every individual. Thanks.

    • Well technically you shouldn’t own any firearms, as one of the questions on a NICS background check asks if you have sucidal thoughts, which you either lied about, or bought your firearms from a private party. I’m not coming down on you, just say’in. As long as you don’t plan on shooting up a bunch of people and then capping yourself, I honestly don’t care if you own a gun. But you do realize that every mass shooter had sucidal thoughts too, so don’t be surprised if most people are uneasy with the idea of some one who admits to being suicidal owning a gun. Not saying you would do that, but there’s a good reason people suffering from serious depression and suicidal thoughts shouldn’t be around guns, or pills, or even knives. All I’ll tell ya is if you are feeling depressed, angry, or your under the influence of a substance, please don’t handle any firearms, and let a friend hold on to them until your feeling better.

      • No where on the 4473 does the word suicide exist. So perhaps you should read the document you are quoting first.

      • Just because some of the mass shooters had suicidal thoughts, doesn’t mean that people with suicidal thoughts are mass shooters. Not all rectangles are squares.
        The 4473 absolutely does not mention suicidal thoughts.
        It would not only be impossible for me not to be around “pills” or knives (medicine cabinet, kitchen), but as I mentioned, taking away firearms (a hobby and important part of my feeling safe) or knives (another hobby, and something I always have on me) would make me that much less happy with life.
        And the fact that some people are uneasy with some other people being armed is fine, so long as it doesn’t turn into the kind of rights-denying statist attitude that makes a lot of us here angry.

        • You are right:

          I was thinking of line f.

          Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective
          (which includes a determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that you are a danger to yourself or to others or are incompetent to manage your own affairs) OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution? (See Instructions for Question 11.f.)

          I think you can see where I got that idea, but yes, I was technically incorrect.

          I’m just saying it is fundamentally irresponsible for you to own gun if you are actively thinking about killing yourself with one. You can hang yourself with a belt in your doorway if you want to, but I don’t think you should get rid of all of your belts. But I think anyone who is suicidal should personally, as an individual try and avoid the things that they have thoughts about killing themselves with.

          People who are severely depressed and suicidal are ill. Everyone’s has different circumstances and problems, but a severely depressed and suicidal gun owner sets off red flags by definition.

    • Nigel: Thank you very much for candidly sharing your story and insightful comments. It is important that we make distinctions among different sorts of difficulties: as you point out, struggling with suicidal thoughts does not mean that one is actually in danger of committing suicide. Speaking more broadly, there are different sorts of mental difficulties, and one of the problems with the gun grabbers is that they group all those difficulties together as “mental illness.” Finally, I fully agree with your conclusion: it’s not anyone’s business whether a fellow wants to kill himself with a gun. It’s not anyone else’s life. To take any other position is to give in to those who think that our lives are not our own but are the property of the “experts.”

      • Thanks for actually reading and understanding my comment. I encourage everyone to offer their support to those who are in need – and actually want it.

        • Sure. After reading the initial reactions to your comment, I wanted to let you know that not everyone had misunderstood. It was very refreshing to read your story because I think it presents the reality that we never hear about. Life isn’t a made-for-TV drama in which a suicidal thought is only cause for shock or pity (cue the violins). Also, in my view, anyone who hasn’t had a suicidal thought at least a few times in his life is simply crazy. No other word for it.

  13. The anti-gun zealots have never been concerned with actual, you know, results. They want to feel good about themselves. They want to feel safe.

    It’s all about their precious feelings, when one gets right down to it.

  14. Nigel: Please don’t consider suicide. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary
    problem. In fact suicide is no alternative simply because it is permanent. I can
    partially relate to your pain, depression, and hopelesness. I too contemplated
    suicide back in 1976 (I was aged 19 then) using a firearm. Sadly this occured
    following the literal suicide death of my own adopted 15 year old girl cousin in
    Bend, Oregon. She shot herself with a rifle. No………I didn’t attend her funeral
    because I was so distraught and traumatized! Fortunately caring Christians who
    loved me had my in their godly prayers. I gave my own life to Jesus Christ in
    October 1978 and was baptized (immersed) into Christ the following Sunday,
    December 10th, 1978. Am I perfect, have all the answers, etc? Certainly not!
    Do I still have my quirks, faults, and shortcomings? Sure. Nontheless I have hope
    beyond the grave. I’m eternally grateful Jesus and not Satan now has my soul!
    Today I own about 12 firearms and have ready access to them. Happily I have
    no desire to kill myself. The Bible states: “For God hath not given us the spirit
    of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” —–II Timothy 1:17
    Too Colossians 1:13 states: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness,
    and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son (Jesus).”

    Anyway Nigel, it’s not my intention to preach, fix, or change you or anyone else
    reading this posted site. Too, I don’t know where you live. But it’s probably several
    thousand miles away from you (Ashland, Oregon). If you ever need help be sure
    to contact us. Perhaps we can be of assistance. But again, please don’t commit
    suicide. On the net:

    The Christian Church of Ashland at 2nd and B” Street.
    http://www.cc-ashland.org

    • Your support is welcome, but you need not worry. As I mentioned, I have suicidal thoughts, not the likelihood of committing the act. Those who have the same problem will probably understand what I mean.

  15. One in six adult male suicides occurs during the divorce process. Many men are painfully aware that the Family and Divorce Courts are biased in favor of the divorcing wife against the husband. At least 90% of my male friends who were married (with or without children) or have to deal with a baby-mama (ex-girlfriend/ex-lover who suspiciously became pregnant) have mostly horror stories to share with me. Sadly, I can see that some men having their children taken away and denied visitation rights, and faced with financial servitude etc might pick up a gun to take away their pain.

  16. I get a kick out of people sitting in their easy chair pain free & telling others to tough it out. I was in a bad auto accident with a lot of pain & while nowheres near suicidal, life was not fun anymore. There are people with cancer that have no hope & it is ludicris for someone to tell them they have to stay so that “they” can feel good. Kevorkian was right & a great man in my opinion. A gun is just a great “tool” in this case, Randy

  17. Is suicide as a an act or contemplated act the business of the state? Is the state concerned with the method or the act? Depending on your beliefs ,suicide is a humane act ending a boat load of pain and misery or a direct affront to G-d . The use of firearms to effect a suicide should be its own category for statistical purposes. Every other use of firearms resulting in death or serious injury should be captured as distinct category.

  18. Most anti-gun people never mention suicide while they talk about “gun deaths” because as Robert F points out, they want big numbers and to allow people to jump to the conclusion that those numbers represent homicides. When gun grabbers refer specifically to suicide, most of them are guilty of the extreme hypocrisy, because these are the same people fighting for right-to-die legislation.

    A worthwhile project for internet research would be to pair some of the contradictory statements by prominent lefties.

  19. I think the pistol is actually a Bulgarian-made Arkus. (Sorry if somebody already posted that.)

  20. Suicide is a choice. Almost all gun grabbers are “pro choice.” if you are a woman you are free to choose an abortion. “They” willmake the other choices for you.

    • Suicide is a choice; .38 to the temple, .45 in the mouth, Kurt Cobain 12-gauge shotgun technique. Decisions, decisions. LOL (I think I’ll just live to see another day.) But if a person feels like a loser or is at the end of their rope and have made a conscious decision to end it all, at least a nice center fire cartridge, well aimed, will allow them to be a success, die quickly and go out on their own terms. Jumping off a bridge? No way! Slitting wrists? Way too slow. It ‘would’ be the right tool for the right job so to speak. Hunter S. Thompson called it quits with a .45 to the head in 2005. I’m not defending it, but I think he wanted his freedom and control until the very end. Humans do some crazy stuff, and a suicidal person will find a way.

    • Yep. In their view, you have a choice if you want to satisfy your libido. Otherwise, you have no choice.

  21. I suffer from MDD and have since I was at least 9. I’m 24 now. I’ve been suicidal. I’ve come closer than I like to admit. I have easy access to firearms and I am still here.

    Yes, it is quick. It is also messy and outright gruesome for my family to find. Because of that I decided I would use either carbon monoxide or nembutal. Both of which I also have easy access to.

    Yet I am still here. My point? I have chosen, several times, to remain here. I haven’t done this out of fear of death or even my own good. Everytime it has been for mother who already lost a son, my oldest brother who already lost a little brother, and my niece and nephews who I don’t want to learn what I did at such a young age.

    I’ve committed myself to therapy and it is working. Were it not for my family’s support and their urging of getting me the help I need I would be dead. If someone wants to die, they will find a way. Believe me, I can go into your kitchen and find a way to kill myself with frightening efficiency. My point is this: you want to stop gun related suicides then improve the mental healthcare in this country and increase awareness of it. It infuriates me when I see people use people’s lives to push an agenda. It is outright sickening and the people guilty of such intellectual dishonesty and filth do more harm than any gun ever will.

    Keep it up TTAG. This type of information is what people need to hear.

  22. The table shows that suicides overall increased by 28.4% in adults from 1999 to 2010 while those involving firearms increased half as much (14.%). This slower rate of increase might have been due to restrictions on gun ownership. However gun laws didn’t seem to affect the overall suicide rate. People who couldn’t get a gun just used overdosing, strangling and other means. CDC organized a detailed study of death certificates, police reports and other documents to count suicides, homicides and other violent deaths in 16 states during 2009. These states accounted for 25% of the US population. They found 9949 suicides of which 5154 (51.8%) were due to firearms. An extrapolation to the whole country is somewhat inaccurate but it suggests that there were 40,000 total suicides of which about 20,000 were due to firearms.

    People on both sides of the gun control debate are using the statistics to support their views but while they argue there are still 20,000 people dying every year. It appears that gun control laws will not significantly decrease the overall suicide rate although they apparently decrease the rate of gun related suicides. If laws will not save people’s lives, what will? Several people who contributed to this thread described their own personal experiences in which psychological counseling helped save their lives and suggested that such counseling be made more available.

    It turns out that counseling is already widely available as close as your telephone. There are a large number of suicide hotlines where people who are considering suicide can talk to someone who may be able to talk them out of killing themselves. People who use the hotlines don’t end up in some government registry or using antidepressant medications. Gun owner organizations, publications and websites (like this one) can make a positive impact on decreasing the suicide rate by publicizing these hotlines, by publishing articles describing them and by including suicide prevention issues in gun safety programs. Readers of this blog should stop blabbing about the “gun grabbers” and start doing things that actually save lives.

    • You make some great points. And I very much agree that anyone, including gun owners in general as well as readers of this blog who are concerned with the suicide rate or suicidal people can encourage them to get help from any of the widely available sources that exist.
      I would like to make note, however, that talking to a stranger on the phone for 20 minutes when you’re about to shoot yourself is not therapy; seeing the same person (as many as several times) each week to work on goals and life changes, and possibly adding medication to that, is therapy.

      • I don’t think anybody claims that the hotlines are a substitute for therapy but the time from when a person decides to commit suicide and when he pulls the trigger is frequently less then an hour so that a hotline provides a rapid response during those critical first moments to be followed up by a longer term therapeutic regime.

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