Lauren Pratte (courtesy washingtonpost.com)

“I read with disappointment the March 5 Metro article “Fight over Arlington gun store escalates,” psychiatrist Liza H. Gold admits in a letter of the editor. “The Post reproduced Dennis R. Pratte’s photograph of his 16-year-old daughter, Lauren, holding a gun and standing in front of about a dozen guns [above]. In doing so, The Post missed an opportunity to discuss a primary concern this image should evoke: the risk guns pose in the hands of teenagers.” And every time The Post prints a picture of a crime scene it should discuss the importance of armed self-defense. Anyway here’s Ms. Gold’s logic . . .

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among adolescents, and about 40 percent of teen suicides are committed with firearms. That people younger than 18 cannot legally buy guns is not an obstacle to teen firearm suicides. Generally, they use their parents’ unsecured firearms.

Clicking on Ms. Gold’s link to the World Health Organization, we can examine the WHO’s age-adjusted suicide stats for the decade between 1990 and 2000. The suicide rate in the U.S. was significantly lower than “gun free” Japan’s (13.9 per 100k vs. 19.5 per 100k). The report also identifies what happens when a country “cracks down” on civilian gun ownership.

In the past two decades, in some countries such as Australia, there has been a remarkable increase in hanging as a means of suicide, especially among younger people, accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the use of firearms.

And the suicide rate remains the same. I’d also like to point out that if 40 percent of American teen suicides are firearms-related, 60 percent are not. Why isn’t Dr. Gold focused on the suicide methods used by most teens like…drug overdoses? What about unsecured pills? Nope. Because guns. Like this:

As a psychiatrist, I have spoken with grieving parents whose tragic loss is multiplied exponentially by the knowledge that the means of their child’s preventable death was a gun they kept in the home. Whenever a child or teen is brought into gun debates, The Post should remind readers that perspectives about the risks guns present go beyond the non-constructive and tread-worn “pro-gun” Second Amendment vs. “anti-gun” gun-control arguments.

I don’t doubt that the parents of a teen who committed suicide with one of their guns feels a special kind of guilt. But assuming or even suggesting that if there hadn’t been any firearms kept in the home their child might still be alive is cruel, dangerous nonsense.

Arguing that media images showing children or teens safely handling guns should always include a health warning is less dangerous but equally irrational. Doing so would perpetuate the idea that guns are bad. Not true. Negligent or criminal gun use is bad. As is untreated – and sometimes untreatable — mental illness. Focus on that, Doc.

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67 Responses to Lauren Pratte’s Picture Triggers Anti-Gun Agita

  1. How does she know all of those guns were not secured and the teens acquired them and killed themselves? I had access to the gun cabinet from the time I was 12. Even if my dad hid the key, I had bolt cutters and other destruction tools in the shed I could have used to get a gun out.

    • A gun chained down = secured
      Cutting the chain away = unsecured.

      She isn’t describing the way the gun was usually stored, she is describing the condition of the weapon at the time it was fired, which by default *must* be unsecured. It is a dirty trick, and clever word usage.

  2. What in, any house, is “secured” from a 15yr old of average intelligence who wants to get in/to _______?

    If you have an answer, other than “nothing”, you’re delusional

      • Nah all they need is the safe in the middle of the floor unbolted, 20 mins, a 20ft long pry bar and deaf neighbors just watch any youtube video with a locksmith trying to upsell a safe. Boom right in (eventually).

        • Or a $15 rare earth magnet in a gym sock… 🙂

          It takes about 10 seconds if they know where the electro-magnetic locking mechanism is.

    • “What in, any house, is “secured” from a 15yr old of average intelligence who wants to get in/to _______?”

      1) Vacuum cleaner
      2) Mop
      3) Dish soap
      4) Windex
      5) Lawn mower

  3. I read today of a Japanese kid’s recent suicide. He was distraught over his parents discovering that his junior high school would not write a letter of recommendation in support of his application for admission to a high school. Let that sink in for a minute.

    Still with me? OK.

    The junior high school wouldn’t write the letter for his high school admissions application because the junior high school’s database record of this kid indicated that he had been caught shoplifting some years before. (Like when he was what age? 10, maybe? The article didn’t mention.) Turns out, it was another kid who’d shoplifted years before, but when the teacher years before had entered the information into their database from the handwritten report, she entered it under the wrong kid’s file.

    Some people will kill themselves for any, or no real, reason, folks. Here or in gun-free Japan. Means substitution is real. You’re not going to save anyone’s life by putting other people’s lives in danger via civilian disarmament.

    • In South Korea, people commit suicide over dropping from rank #1 in high school to #3 and botched plastic surgery. And btw, South Korea ranks higher in suicide than Japan.

  4. In phobic disorders, sufferers tend to focus on the object of their fear to the exclusion of logic. Right, doc? Scary guns scare you? Because guns? What would you say about a pic of a teen driver in a car? Gasp! The horror!

  5. Just last week, the entire teenage population of Des Moines, Iowa committed gun suicide because there were no belts or wire hangers in their home and Des Moines few tall buildings and no subway.

    Combined with more than 18 million mass shootings last month, mostly in Chicago, the entire population of the Midwest will soon decline to its lowest number since the start of Global Warming in 10,000 BC when the ice caps receded and endangered the polar bears, who are very cute.

    We need open borders and more immigration or we will quickly run out of people to operate suicide help lines in broken English. We should do it for the children.

    • You jest but listening over the phone to any kind of “support” in broken English could easily prevent tens of thousands of suicides by changing the urge to die into the urge to kill.

      Just keep the hotline locations a secret.

  6. The Doctor has descended from her throne on the right hand of God to command us mere mortals from her superior intellect as to what we must do, least we be thrown into the pits of Hoppes.

    Yet another know it all busy body….

  7. Psychiatrists primarily do not deal in therapy they deal in prescriptions. Also this is just further proof that higher education is no excuse for common sense and nothing will stop someone from twisting a study to their benefit.

    • Most of the people in Psych courses, including the professors, are there because they’re trying to figure out their own brain scrambles. Taking a teenager out to the traps and blasting a hundred clays sounds like damn good therapy to me, teaches discipline and safety in the company of serious adults, gets the aggression out and makes ’em tired enough to sleep well for a night. Happy teens that are well socialized rarely commit suicide.

  8. Car accidents are a much higher killer of teenagers than gun-involved suicides.

    Do we have to bring that up every time a kid poses in front of a project car with his dad for the “Auto Section?”

    Of course not. That would be pathological.

  9. All I see is a smiling happy young girl with a firearm on her shoulder. Kudos to her parents. Some shrink, who by historical reference are generally not the most stable themselves gets in a hissy?
    Sorry I need to feed the unicorns again.

    Geez. As the phrase suggests, “You Go Girl!”.

  10. I decided today that I’m just tired of Liberals. I can no longer stand the sight of their faces on TV or online,and the sound of their voices grates on me like nails on a chalkboard. The stupid and wasteful social experiments in pursuit of “transforming America” that have kept this economy in shambles have made it impossible for me to be able to sell my home or prepare for retirement with any sense of security. The costs of health insurance and utilities have “necessarily skyrocketed” to quote the great BHO. I’m just clinging to my religion and especially my guns, praying that I have enough good years left to work if and when this nightmare is over to undo some of the damage that was done to my finances when we were forced to close our business (my retirement). At least I was one of the lucky ones who was able to resume my previous career. In inflation adjusted dollars, I earn LESS than I did 30 years ago, but at least it pays the bills.
    People like this prattle on, knowing that very few people have any critical thinking skills anymore. There is a full court press on our constitutional rights, but so few even know what they are. I just know that I’m tired of tasting my own bile and feeling my blood pressure rising day after day, when the generation that we are trying to save from tyranny is more concerned about selfie sticks and the Kardashians. Why can’t more Americans see what’s at stake, and realize stories like the one above are just part of the larger propaganda machine?

    • “Why can’t more Americans see what’s at stake, and realize stories like the one above are just part of the larger propaganda machine?”

      For the most part, the overwhelming majority of people in our nation reject the reality of what is truly at stake. They just refuse to see it because it is not fun and too scary.

  11. Ms. Gold comes so close and yet is so far. All we have to do is eliminate a few words in her statement — and replace the word “buy” with the synonym “obtain” — to produce a powerful, widely applicable absolute truth:

    That people … cannot [obtain] guns is not an obstacle to … suicides.

    • The really smart part is that he spent the time early on training her so he can make her clean them when the boys come around, leaves more time to stare right into the kids soul.

    • That’s because papa owns the gunstore she is standing in.The caption says that is a 1939 coach shotgun.

  12. Once a society has collapsed to the point where people fight over someone else’s house or business or anything else, it’s over. Regardless of the eventual outcome of this particular fight.

  13. The parent of a teenager’s sole job is to help them complete their transition into adulthood.

    Adults know how to handle all manner of dangerous things responsibly. If you are not teaching your children how to handle automobiles and firearms and fire and power tools and 100 other things responsibly, you’re not doing your damn job and you need to fix yourself.

    You’re welcome.

    • And motorcycles. And liquor. And dealing with young women (or young men if female). Basically how not to be an idiot. Not taught in schools, and not under any kind of psychiatric supervision. How about growing up in the countryside, instead of an urban hazard course?

      • Agreed, except way too many people suck at riding motorcycles. Not saying we should ban them, just saying that I wish I haven’t had to respond to so many motorcycle crashes. If you’ll forgive another sentence of rant, the mileage death rate (MDR) for motorcycles is more than 20 times greater for motorcycles than cars.

        • Lanesplitting isn’t legal in my current state, but it always seemed like asking for trouble in CA. I used to do it leading up to the San Mateo, and sometimes on the 280 when it got tight, but it always made me very nervous. Never on the 101. I had a lightweight (KLR650) bike, and all I needed was one a-hole to door-open on me and it would’ve been messy, for me anyway.

          I’m sure accur81 is talking about the general organ donor types who smear themselves on a regular basis. I remember one I saw where the guy was exceeding the recommended velocity for anything that says H-D on it, and it slid out from under him somewhere north of 100 in a sweeper. ‘Natch he was wearing the yarmulke-inspired decorative “helmet” and his face was dragged off over about 50 meters. Pretty sure that was closed casket. Stunters on sportbikes are even worse, since while they can stand-ride a wheelie, or do a stoppie, they have no actual skill at, you know, riding. I knew a couple of them who have become wrong-lane hood ornaments, or passed themselves through barbed wire fences.

        • Seen a guy go thru a 3 strand barbed wire fence that held up against the impact. That was an education. Other guy that wasn’t ejected from the vehicle was under a big block v8.

          I don’t know which of them died quicker.

        • I have the feeling the fence thing is (rather) common. It’ll keep steaks that are still ambulatory in, and I’ve really never encountered a fragile barbed-wire fence. I’m sure there’s a weak one somewhere, but 40 years of screwin’ around in the woods and I’ve never seen it. Hit it with a dirt bike, you endo. Slide through on a streeter at 100+ and you get sliced into easy to pick up pieces. .

          My first funeral for a friend was the guy who decided to pass, uphill, with a wicked blind spot. In an ’82-ish Ford Ranger. The oncoming dump truck that appeared pretty well took his side of the truck clean off. His brother the passenger barely survived.

        • Barbed-wire is adequate for containing docile bovines, but an agitated heifer can clear a five foot-high five-strand fence from a running broadjump in the blink of an eye.

      • i always wheely with my hair on fire for increased visibility when lane splitting. i can see farther ahead and may also be more noticeable.

  14. I am surprised no-one has commented that the girl’s finger was off the trigger and from what one can tell from the photo, the gun is sized down to her body size. Someone (most likely a father present in the household) has taught her about gun safety and helped her choose a gun that fits her, along with probably many other useful life skills. And as these all appear to be shotguns, without any evil cosmetic features, they are absolutely harmless.

    • The picture was apparently taken in the gun store that her father plans on opening, that has lead to a local brouhaha “because guns.” “Oh me oh my, it is right across the street from a child care center! Think of the children!” As others have noted, the D.C. liberals have moved into northern Virginia and brough their gun phobias with them.

  15. So the failure of psychology to resolve these peoples issues is somehow the fault of the object they use to kill themselves ?

  16. Medical school is a tough curriculum. Not nearly as tough as engineering, but still tough. People who go to medical school and graduate used to be on the gravy train for life, but not so much these days.

    The small fraction of med school graduates who then specialized in psychiatry tend to have a lot of psychiatric issues themselves. They’re trying to diagnose their own problems.

    I worked at a major medical center for 38 years. We taught these kids from start to finish, and I saw ’em all. Some were excellent people, and some I wouldn’t trust with a sharp object! So pick your MD very carefully.

    Charlie

  17. The means of the person’s preventable suicide death is getting help. If a person is bent on suicide their odds of success are good. I had a relative hang himself in jail via his own underwear. How are you going to stop that?

  18. Yeah. This is the second time this shit has happened in Arlington. I’m from there, and this type of logic never ceases to amaze me. There is a pawn shop like a mile from that store that sells guns, and has for years. No one care. All of a sudden, a gun store that specifically expensive hunting pieces is the enemy? How many people have you heard of that kill someone with a $2,000 shotgun?! Particularly when people say shit like “The Second Amendment only protects your right to own hunting guns.” or “I support your right to hunt, but….” You do? Ok. Then show it. Also that nonsense about it being next to a daycare. There’s a road next to the daycare too. Cars are dangerous. Why is no one up in harms about that? The hypocrisy makes my head hurt.

    • “There’s a road next to the daycare too. Cars are dangerous. Why is no one up in harms about that?”

      I worked a case once where a guy, in an attempt to run down “his girlfriend,” purposefully drove through a park playground with kids and caregivers present.

      Miraculously, no one was hurt. But, it brings it stark focus the fundamental truth of your statement.

  19. “Preventable suicides” vs. unpreventable ones? What’s inevitable and what’s not? You tell people that evil gun is gonna get them, you’re setting them up to give up, are you not?

    Really, I think “preventable suicides” more likely come from bad psychiatry than something that can kill you lying around, like there is every damn where. Maybe talk to people as if their suicide is not inevitable? Just a thought.

    Despair, crappy thinking, and the passive impotence of being at the mercy of objects seems pretty suicide inducing to me. Since when is it good mental hygiene to run down patients in distress, tell them they are victime, flotsam before powers outside them?

    The good shrink also lacks some business sense. Yr patients can’t pay you after you’ve talked them into giving up n letting the gun get them.

  20. I had a friend in HS that developed pretty severe depression after some girl-related drama (although he was always kind of gloomy). I knew his family well; his parents were avid pheasant hunters, and his older brother was big into deer and pig hunting.
    But after finding some very morbid, suicidal writings, they purged their house of all firearms as suggested by his psychologist; not by just storing them elsewhere, they sold them off, even those belonging to his brother. And while we were hanging out one day, he actually laughed at the futility of his family ditching their guns.

    So what did my friend do? He hung himself after cutting his wrists and swallowing an overdose of anxiety meds.

    • Some people are just determined, or locked in, or both.

      I worked a suicide hotline during HS for community service. You learn really quick who is serious and who is merely attention seeking. Not that you need to hear it from a stranger, but seriously, nothing you could do. One of my HS friends couldn’t take the Italian family pressure to join the molesters in the Catholic Church (who had already gotten to molesting him). He was supposed to be a priest, that’s what his effed-up parents wanted, they never believed. They even tried to excuse the pervert priests when they actually did finally sorta listen to him.

      He ate a .357 and I never blamed him. Shame he didn’t take a few with him, but the Catholics are really well practiced at moving the pervs around. He couldn’t find them to off those filthy pricks if he wanted to.

    • Yes, yes they do. Were there a god, he’d leave the decision up to you. Sick religious fvcks have people hanging around in horrid pain and suffering, only to meet there inevitable end just so they feel better about your death. Barbaric, and soulless.

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