Previous Post
Next Post

“I, like many other psychiatrists, frequently evaluate people who have a new lease on life after surviving pill overdoses and knife wounds. One reason they may use less lethal methods is the ambivalence about the wish to die, resulting in a cry for help. Since suicidal behavior often has an impulsive component, those who are more determined can be saved if the method is made more difficult. This can be aided by reduced access to guns.” – Jeffrey B. Freedman in a letter to the editor [via]

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Why stop there? How about reduced access to cars, sharp pointy objects, rope, drugs, tall buildings, matches, alcohol, deep bodies of water, elevator shafts, train stations, and busy streets? Replace “guns” with any of the above and an argument could be made for any of those things. I think you have to address to root of the problem: suicidal behavior and depression. Look around you, folks. Pay more than the usual attention to your friends and family – take note of their behavior and show that you give a damn about others. Suicide prevention has to be about more than “reduced access” to things that can harm, or be used to end a person’s life. It is a LOT easier to show people that you care about them on a daily (even weekly) basis, than it is to talk them off the ledge (before it’s too late). Address the REAL problem… like everything else, get to the root and you can actually make an impact.

  2. As someone who had a family member who was determined to die, no amount of help or access to anything was able to save them. My family member eventually used bed sheets and hung them selves from a second story deck off the house. No gun was required. No amount of psychiatrists or help was able to do anything.

    Look at the socialite who jumped off the George Washington Bridge a few weeks ago after leaving a note of who she wanted to not have at her funeral. She walked the foot path of the bridge and jumped as cars flew by watching.

    This a good intentioned but flawed emotional argument. At the end of the day, we cannot save everyone. Not everyone is going to die from old age. We can save those we can save and we have to let go of others after trying as much as we can. Firearm or no firearm they will find a way.

    • Even if it were PROVEN that there was a slightly higher rate of death with firearms, it would still be determined as a price we pay for liberty, a price paid by many decisions we make in life as free citizens. We have the right to PURSUE happieness……..AND (sadly) self destruction.
      You cannot have one without the other.

  3. I believe that we all have a right to die whenever we please. I also believe that suicide is the coward’s escape. But nobody should be able to tell you that you cannot kill yourself.

    • So killing oneself because of intractable pain is cowardly? I wish I could access this mode of thinking. I have long made it a practice to never second-guess suicides. Because it puts me in an exalted position I have no right to be in.

      • Suicide is demonized in western cultures by the Christian ideal of a full life of hard work being the ticket to salvation (stemming from the middle ages) and especially the Catholic ruling that it will send you straight to hell, no matter how good you are. In other cultures, like Hinduism, suicide does not have a heavy stigma and may even be required in some cases (Shinto).

        My uncle committed suicide with a shotgun. He didn’t want to live anymore as he was facing prison time and a ruined life and wanted a spectacle for his wife to find. I abhor the negative impact it had on the family, but there’s nothing that could stop it. Those who want to follow through will follow through no matter what means are used. Those that hesitate or want to be saved wouldn’t pull the trigger in the first place. This physician assumes everyone is the same and we know that’s not the case.

        Since the media is the only state-approved educator, how many films feature characters that just can’t pull the trigger? I can think of quite a few scenes.

  4. For talking points with the antis: there are nine methods of suicide that have 89.5%+ effectiveness. Four of them are different types of gunshot wounds (Edit: the comment platform won’t let me link to the study, but it is easily Google-able). Five of them are not. Additionally, Japan — where all guns are completely banned — has a suicide rate twice the U.S., which is about in the middle worldwide.

    This guy’s argument also unravels his whole point: there are really effective ways to commit suicide, including non-gun methods. And everyone knows them. These “ambivalent” cases who don’t really want to die are still going to take pills, etc. because of the very reason that guns (like hanging, etc.) *are* effective.

    Also, isn’t the left supposed to be in favor of assisted suicide / the “right to die”?

    • Beat me to it. The usual pro-choice crowd is only ok with killing the unborn, weak and helpless by third parties. When an individual chooses to commit suicide he is violating the State’s monopoly on who lives and who dies.

      • “When an individual chooses to commit suicide he is violating the State’s monopoly on who lives and who dies.”

        Which is PRECISELY why they oppose it. Government Uber Alles.

    • There’s a difference between insisting that someone with terminal cancer should have help getting out when they are to the point when death, when it finally comes, will be a mere formality and letting people who could be helped back into a useful, productive life instead wreck the grill on a truck tractor and give the driver nightmares for the next decade.

      Assisted suicide’s not a left/right thing. It’s a fundagelical God wants you to stay around and suffer/we are our own masters thing.

      The latter view seems very Republican to me, rather than having “Big Gummint” legislating that we’ve no rights to our own bodies, but strangely most GOP would disagree.

      Please do not make ignorant, polarizing statements here, else you risk alienating the half of us who believe in both Medicare AND 2A.

      Russ, Kansas gun owner and centrist snob

      • @Russ: Good point.

        I generally try to avoid polarizing statements. I didn’t think that “isn’t the left supposed to be in favor of assisted suicide / the ‘right to die’?” might be polarzing because I was writing it as a member of the left.

        I’m an old school socialist who wears the label proudly. But I also like me my 2A. And if the AWB passes, I will hold my nose and vote GOP until it goes away.

        • Fair ’nuff.

          Sorry – There’s so much labeling ’round here, sometimes I see it where it’s not.

          I’m with you on what to do should bans pass; fortunately, it’s pretty unlikely in Kansas.

          We need a ban pass filter…


  5. Well, you can’t deny he has a point if suicide were an instant impulse, but I think most suicides are well thought out, and are caused by deep depression. Using a gun makes it simpler is some ways but when people ideate of suicide, they usually brood on it and think about it for a long time. I think it is less impulsive than this man describes. The preparation and planning are usually long term. No one goes around happy with their lives and then on a moment’s bad news decide to kill themselves within a few minutes. It takes months, or years even, of depression to get to that point in most cases.

    • I think we’d all be surprised to know how many people steer into highway abutments on a moment’s whim, but your point is still valid in spite of that.

  6. Reducing guns wont keep people from killing themselves, people haven been doing so for ages. They’ll just take more pills or something, everything can kill you.

  7. Weeelll…

    They’re absolutely right. Access to the sides of bridges, to gasoline, to bees and to firearms all make suicide more easily doable.

    I’ll happily turn in my stuff, for my own protection and that of others, when they ban bees.

    Russ, Kansan

  8. The fact is easy access to many things in life is a health hazard. Why is it that this particular medical drone is saying this? I can tell you why: Two reasons: 1) It follows the establishment myth GUNS = BAD, GUN RIGHTS USURPATION = GOOD and 2) Its controversial.

    Stop talking about what these drones spew. Thier “Drone Gears” have been cut to follow thier master’s commands. They are irrelevant.

  9. Ok, I take a major exception when the uninformed and quasi-intelligent make statements like this. I was a cop in a city with a very long beach front. People liked to drive to the edge of the world and then attempt suicide after watching one last sunrise. Most succeeded as the remoteness of some of the area meant they would go undiscovered for hours (if not days in the winter) as per their intent. The ones that are seeking atention, go off the beach access near the public parking in order to be “discovered”. I say this because I dealt with a lot of suicides. Both succesful and unsuccessful. They are rarely impulsive and when they are, they usually succeed, using a variety of methods, not just guns. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and I saw some creative ways. Sure, the off exception occurs where a guy has a long run of bad luck and decides after night of heavy drinking to quit. But those folks always chose a definitive method such as jumping off the bridge, hanging, stepping in front of a bus/tractor trailer, taking a sh1tload of pills, not just a handful and yes, sometimes a gun. Those exceptions are determined and aren’t the ones who cry for help. Removing handguns will simply lead them to one of the alternate surefire methods I indicated above.

    The ones that are “crying for help”, all had suicidal thoughts, sometimes for years. I know this because I spent many an hour on suicide watch with the unsuccessful attempts, waiting at the county hospital for the psychologist to come in and officially commit them, listening to their stories of woe.

    In my experience the cry for help people took half-hearted measures because they were in fact, crying for help. They wanted the attention so they planned their suicide attempt (and they all plan them, sometimes for a long time) with the express intent of being found and making the statement of, “I need help”. Often, they would attempt suicide several times before their depression finally got the better of them and they decided to go through with it for real. And for that, they chose a more definitive method like I mentioned for the impulse suicides. As a detective, following up on suicides, I talked to friends and family and only once, and I remember it clearly did they ever say they had no idea he/she was suicidal. They all struggled for many years with depression, bad divorces, substance abuse, etc. More often than not, when doing the death notification, I was often met with, “so he/she finally did it eh?”.

    This moron is trying to blame the ineffectiveness of our mental health care system on guns. Another elitist claiming to know something he doesn’t.

    • ” I know this because I spent many an hour on suicide watch with the unsuccessful attempts”

      I know it wasn’t your intention, but the first time I read that, I thought you were saying it was YOUR suicide you were referring to. I’m glad it wasn’t.

  10. This is kind of a tough personal thing with me, because my best friend tried to commit suicide a little over a year ago… He took his dad’s muscle relaxers, and after a few days he’d had to recover, he confessed to me that if there had been a gun in the house (he looked), he’d have used that. For obvious reasons, I’m glad he’d only had access to muscle relaxers. Now since he’s had his second chance, he’s got a full time job, and he’s a productive member of society who’s got his depression issues under control.

    I don’t think, however, that any psychiatrist should have sole discretion when it comes to who’s allowed to own guns, and who’s not. Too many people in the health care industry have a God complex, and that’s the last thing we need, it someone who’s got the authority to take away our rights. It’d be really unfortunate to say the wrong thing in jest, or piss someone off, and have them call you crazy, rendering you incapable of owning a firearm. Does The Crucible come to anyone else’s mind?

    • I used to have three nephews, but now I’ve two.

      Li’l Michael always was a tidge solemn, and when he enacted a permanent solution to some temporary problems, we all were saddened but not entirely surprised.

      Strangely, he didn’t use his father’s m1911, to which he’d ready access, but instead went out to the garage and used a rope – a long, ugly way to die.

      Had guns never been invented, it’d have slowed him up not one whit.

      Russ, curmudgeon of the pains

      • One of my best friend’s in high school used the hose from the vacuum cleaner attached to the exhaust pipe of his car. He waited until his mom, dad and sister left in the morning, pulled his car in the garage and did the deed. He decided to go this way despite the fact his dad had several shotguns and handguns in the house with readily available ammunition. This was back in the day when nobody even thought about gun safes and locking up your protection. When somebody has reached that point, sadly, they will find a way.

  11. Massachusetts passed landmark gun control in 1998. That year, there were 1.5 million gun owners in the state. Just a few years later, there were only 200,000 registered gun owners in the state.

    The suicide rate has been going up ever since then.

  12. This Irish kid used to live upstairs from me. Since his dad was kind of useless, we sort of adopted him. He became best friends with my son. After a year and a half, he moved back to Ireland to be with his mom. Turned out not to be such a great move as he was apparently constantly harassed in school. He decided to kill himself (from all reports it was an impulsive act.) Since Ireland has no guns, he hung himself. Sadly, it worked fine.

    So what is this guy’s point? Get rid of guns and we’ll maybe prevent a bunch of suicides, but in the process we’ll disarm America ad put millions of lives at risk of criminal victimization?

    • The nice Dr. Freedman is already one step ahead of you. After society successfully eliminates firearms, they will eliminate everything else that a person could use to end their lives … items like rope, string, wire, cable, chains, vines, and sheets. Did I miss anything?

      Oh, and I suppose we have to eliminate items for other methods that do not involve hanging. That means eliminating tall buildings and bridges, airplanes, mountains, cliffs, and water falls. I suppose we could just eliminate gravity but I digress.


  13. Come on. A person who REALLY wants to kill themselves will do it regardless of firearm availability. We need look no further than the gun-free paradise of Japan to see a higher suicide rate than the U.S.

    Regardless, any attempt to remove guns from the whole of society, in the hope of lowering suicides, will increase successful rapes and murders. That is not an acceptable trade-off. At least the people attempting suicide have a say in what they are doing. A rape or murder victim doesn’t have that luxury.

  14. Suicide is a choice. The goal of control freaks generally and of civilian disarmament advocates in particular is to take meaning out of choices. They want choice without consequence.

    The choice to die or to continue living is the one with the most consequence. Dorothy Parker once said that a person should always carry a gun–not that she was going to kill herself today, but to know that she had the choice to do so. That’s the key. If suicide isn’t an option, ultimately, someone else controls my life.

  15. Ambivalence. Yep, they probably only wanted help. The emotional argument is surprising, considering they’re coming from an “educated” source.

    Although my brother committed suicide (pills), I strongly believe that sometimes suicide MAY be the best solution. I feel sympathy when I read about the elderly person, who goes into a care facility and shoots their ailing spouse, then them self. Who could have made it “all better” for them? Hey, I’m the founder of The Church of Devout Cowardice. I realize however, that society doesn’t always know best.

    Firearms are just tools. Let’s take a step back and view them in their true light.

    Pascal, my sympathies…

  16. Would like to see what the numbers are like when we remove the suicides of terminally ill patients who do not have the option to die peacefully, pain-free, on their own terms and with dignity.

  17. I will tell my story in hopes it will help someone else.

    A little over a year ago I bought my first gun, a gift for my husband for Christmas. I had to give it to him a month early because I needed him to lock it away somewhere I couldn’t get to it. Shortly before Thanksgiving I had the impulse to kill myself with that gun. I’d been depressed for the better part of a decade and was having some issues with my husband trying to cut me off from my best friend, and I’d just basically reached the end of my tether. I’d been wanting to die for quite some time, and to have it all in one neat little package, with a virtual guarantee that with a little research on the ‘net I could find out how to do it right and kill myself for certain, was very very tempting. Up until then I hadn’t killed myself because, frankly, I hadn’t been able to think of an effective way to do it. Because when you really just want to die and you think you’re a failure, there’s nothing worse than waking up in restraints in the hospital after having failed to off yourself.

    Since then, however, the gun has become to me a symbol of the choice I make daily to live. It’s been a long hard road, but just a few months after that I was able to get my concealed carry permit and save for a gun of my own. A couple times I’ve had to give my gun to a friend to keep at their house, but I’m stable on medication now and the choice to live is easy as breathing most days. I came to realize how cowardly it was of me to try to kill myself with a gun that was made to protect, not to destroy.

    Now guns are my “happy place” to which I retreat when I’m feeling down. I’ve had my permit for almost a year now, and I only got suicidal once when we made a (doctor-approved) change in my meds. But my gun comforted me then, because somewhere deep in the back of my mind, I knew that as long as I was carrying it I’d be safe. Instead I was thinking of doing it with household chemicals, Japan-style.

    You can kill yourself with cars, plastic bags, 5 gallon buckets, etc. If you really want to kill yourself, the means are one Google search away. Once the gun became a symbol of protection to me, I never wanted to blow my brains out again.

  18. Guns and suicide
    I just learned that an acquaintance/distant friend committed suicide with a gun. Loosing someone who you knew is bad enough, but to hear that they were in so much pain that they choose to kill themselves to end it all is even worse.

    Suicide is a complicated phenomenon/medical issue. Many times there are warning signs that an astute person could catch and perhaps intervene and prevent the person from ending their life. This makes the whole issue even more painful for the survivors. The fact that they could have saved the person if they had only been paying attention can cause guilt in those around the individual, especially the ones closest.

    Recently, veterans are more susceptible to suicide. After a decade of war, anyone who doesn’t understand why is delusional. Most veterans are more comfortable with firearms than the average citizen. Most own guns. Many veterans have faced the enemy and used guns to kill another human being. The stress from battle, the stress from family separation, the stress of the current economic situation and the impending loss of financial and medical benefits, have left our nation’s hero’s feeling hopeless. Almost every vet has some amount of PTSD, but for most they successfully deal with it and lead normal healthy lives, just like every victim in this country from violent crime, especially rape.

    When you encounter someone you believe is contemplating suicide, traditional thought is to confront them. Ask them if they have a plan. You should removed guns from the home if they have access to them. But the truth is if they are dead set on committing suicide most of the time everyone misses the signs and symptoms, even those closest to the individual. Truth is, if they really want to commit suicide they will find a way. For those who are not committed, for those who would just “attempt” as a gesture for help or attention, they won’t use a tool so effective as a gun. Those just attempting but not actually wanting to commit suicide, will choose cutting, overdose on Tylenol (which is surprisingly effective), and other assumed less lethal means. They really do want to live, they just don’t know how to ask for help.

    Unfortunately, here lately, everyone seems to want to blame the guns. If we had only outlawed guns, especially semi-automatics (I still want to see the case report where someone shot themselves more than once), we would curb suicide drastically.

    When you look at the statistics, women attempt suicide more than men, but men actually commit suicide more than women. Guns are used in the majority of time in successful suicides. Why? Because they are effective tools. Someone who is truly intent on ending their lives will usually choose the most effective & quick means. Many of those who commit suicide are in pain and just want to end the pain. A gun is an effective way to end it quickly and efficiently.

    If we take away the guns, that won’t stop the depression and feeling of hopelessness. Those intent on ending their lives will just choose the next most effective means to end it all as quickly and effectively. When you look at all the ways people elect to end their lives deliberately, statistics show the next most often method is crashing your car. It’s quick and usually effective. After all cars kill 10x more people daily in this country than guns. Aside from outlawing bridges to jump off of, men usually will then elect to drive their cars as fast as they can and find a brick wall to run into, if we take away their gun. This in-turn will be very dangerous to those also on the road at the same time and innocent unknowing people will get hurt/killed by accident.

    I am not suggesting we hand out guns to those who want to commit suicide so they don’t choose to run us off the road in their attempt to kill themselves.

    I am hypothesizing that if every gun was removed from society suicide would not decline, but collateral damage would increase.

    Another unintended consequence of removing guns from the public would be the increase of the crime of rape. In every country where guns were removed /regulated the crime of rape increased. Without a means of self defense, women who are less physically strong and have a smaller stature, will be victimized more. Guns have been called the “Great Equalizer”. I recently purchased a North American Arms .22 magnum miniature revolver for her conceal carry weapon. At first, I was sceptable because it looks soooo cute. Barely longer than her extended fingers, it certainly is not intimindating. That was until we took it to the range. Using Gold Dot self defense ammo, she practiced with her little cute gun. When others on the line stop and take notice due to the sound of the loud canon going off and the huge fireball that emerges from the barrel you know you have something. It is even more amusing at the looks on their faces when they see what the sound/fireball is coming from. I have no doubt that a would-be rapist if not stopped by correct shot placement would get their eyebrows burned off and at least hesitate/think twice on pursuing their intentions.

    Besides combat, rape is the primary cause of PTSD in the US and in other countries. The incidence of suicide among rape victims is exponentially higher than the general population. Rapes are prevented every day by women either brandishing their guns or using them. Outlawing guns will lead to an increase of rape daily, and increase the incidence of suicide.

    Outlawing guns won’t diminish suicide. Outlawing guns will only increase it.

  19. What, is he nuts? Another one for “something bad could happen” so lets go to good people & take their guns. Prices too high at the grocery store? Lets take peoples guns, they “could” get angry & start shooting. This is the cycle we need to break, don’t look at our F’n guns as something you can take. I don’t think blacks should give up their civil rights if one robs a gas station. Same shit with us, different day. As for the doctor, its not too late for help, don’t dally though, Randy

  20. Heck, San Francisco was going to spend ~$50 million to build a net under part of the Golden Gate Bridge to catch would-be jumpers and save them from killing themselves. This net would be basically on the first 1/3 of the bridge on the sidewalk side, because that’s where everyone jumps. Only thing is, that’s where everyone jumps because that’s the first 1/3 of the bridge that you walk onto from the populated side (SF side, not headlands side). If there’s a $50 million net there, the people will just walk farther and then jump off.

    Even if there was no GGB, people would find another way. Same w/ guns, obviously, which can be seen in countries like Japan and South Korea and elsewhere with very high suicide rates and few-to-no guns. Get rid of the guns and you can pat yourself on the back for reducing gun suicides, but you ain’t gonna reduce total suicides. No way.

    BTW — the estimated $50mm cost of the net proposal is also obscene. Considering the scale of the project, it really shouldn’t cost more than $2mm and could probably be done, legitimately, for much, much less than even that. Ridiculous on all fronts.

  21. That completely ignores an important question: Should people have the right to choose thier own destiny…even if that includes death? You didn’t have a choice to come into this world…are you saying you shouldn’t have a choice to leave it? Are we truely at a point where other people should tell someone how to live and how to die?

  22. This is another of the “If we can save one life…” guys, who completely ignores all the lives that are saved by defensive gun uses. Removing guns from law-abiding citizens would cost MANY more lives than he supposes to save. Since he obviously has no concept of reality and can not comprehend anything outside his own experiences, I think we should ignore him.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here