Red Flag Laws vs. Suicide Rates: Another Study Falls Short

Weld County, CO red flag petition

Source: Weld County, CO

A new study of the effect of red flag laws on suicides was published this month. The study title and a first glance at the Methods section, got my hopes up.

The impact of gun violence restraining order laws in the U.S. and firearm suicide among older adults: a longitudinal state-level analysis, 2012–2016

“This is a longitudinal study of US states…”

I consider longitudinal studies of the effects of laws to be the gold standard. Look at a period of time stretching from well before the enactment of a law to well after. Look for discontinuities in the trend of whatever factor you are concerned with at the time of enactment and after. If there is no discontinuity, the law had no effect on that factor.

But then I considered the time frame.

“… using data from 2012 to 2016.”

That’s a peculiar time frame, given how few red flag laws were passed in those years. In fact, only four states had red flag laws at all in 2012-2016: Connecticut (passed in 1999), Indiana (2005), California (2014), and Washington (2016).

Only California could possibly show a potential trend discontinuity due to law enactment in the test period. What are they up to?

“We hypothesize that, relative to states with fewer firearm laws…”/i>

Aha! It isn’t a real longitudinal study; it’s the usual cross-sectional garbage. And we won’t even get into how they cherry-picked two age groups (55-64 and 65+) when the laws were imposed on everyone of all ages.

On to the researchers’ results.

“In unadjusted analysis, each additional firearm law was associated with a significant 0.13% decrease in firearm-related suicide among older adults in both age categories”

That’s significant? Florida saw a 8.5% increase in suicides after passage
of its red flag law (granted, the post-passage time frame is too short to know if that is significant, or just a statistical glitch for one year).

Clearly that wasn’t so significant after all…

“After adjustments, GVRO laws remained associated with a 2.5% decrease in firearm-related suicide among older adults”

Translation: the data didn’t say what they wanted, so they massaged it. And still couldn’t get results consistent with what happened in Florida. If they’d simply do a state-by-state temporal analysis of suicide trends, they wouldn’t have to adjust for demographics.

“However, there appeared to be a slight increase in non-firearm-related suicides in this age group”

How much of an increase? I don’t know, because the only data shown (Table 3) claims a decrease in both age groups: 55-64, -0.02; 65+, −0.35 in adjusted numbers. The unadjusted numbers aren’t given; maybe that’s where the increase was.

At best, given all possible benefit of the doubt, the researchers may have found a slight correlation between red flag laws and suicides. But, again, I don’t know; because the existence of a law doesn’t say anything about how often it’s used.

The paper notes that until 2006, Connecticut only used red flag orders to confiscate roughly 20 guns per year. Florida executed well over a thousand orders in its first year. And saw the increase in suicides that I mentioned.

I’d like to see state-by-state graphs of red flag orders served versus suicides. And even that might not tell us much as such orders may be related to threats to others, not self. Orders are commonly sealed from the public view; we know of an order, but not what type of threat triggered it.

But we likely won’t see such studies because I suspect they already know the data won’t support the victim disarmament narrative.

comments

  1. avatar GS650G says:

    Strip a man of his guns, his job, his reputation and his liberty and you’ll get some serious mental health issues where none existed before.

    1. avatar Roh-Dog says:

      If I found my due process reduced to the function of a coaster, I’d probably lash out/in.
      Red flag me, homies.

    2. avatar charles bukowski says:

      Red Flags laws strip all individuals of Due Process, and Just Cause…PERIOD..go fuck your red flag laws..

  2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Gun grabbers figure and figures along with the grabbers lie thru their teeth, yet another Fake study.

  3. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

    Suicide.,.is a choice…just like abortions…your body…your choice…
    Please do NOT lump suicides by gun in with actual violence using guns..
    Now…murder-suicide…a whole different ballgame…

    1. avatar Ranger Rick says:

      ☝️Exactly.

    2. avatar SKP5885 says:

      “Suicide.,.is a choice…just like abortions…your body…your choice…” ……but abortion is kinda like murder of a baby since there is another living being. Otherwise I agree that suicide is not a gun crime.

      1. avatar Tionico says:

        Yup. Canada and the US are quite similar in demographics and aconomic situation.Overall suicide rates are quite similar as well. BUT since Canada are so restrictive on handguns their GUN suicide rate is significantly lower than in the USA. Other tools replace the firearm as the tool of choice.

        Red flag laws? What a crock!!!!

  4. avatar Leon says:

    Why ever concentrate on suicides by firearm?Plot all suicides against time. If someone was served with a red flag order because of a claim that he is a danger to himself, had firearms confiscated, and then jumped off a building and killed himself, or took a drug overdose, or done any other thing to commit suicide, it is not a win for anyone except the disarmament nut cases. There is quite a bit of research that shows people intent on committing suicide will find a way, while red flag orders only deal with firearm confiscation and not the person who is supposedly a danger to himself.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      The highest rate of successful suicides is for those that used a firearm. I would guess that hanging would follow, with poison and cutting among the less successful methods. Jumpers, although highly successful, are pretty uncommon in the US, though common in other places.

      1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

        I’ve seen a pretty high success rate among suicides by car exhaust. We are very rarely able to save those. I’m not sure how frequently it is the method of choice, but I cannot believe it is far behind drugs and hanging.

        There are also a lot of drug overdoses that we believe to be suicide attempts but unless there is a note or the person said something before or admits if unsuccessful they just get classified as overdoses because of lack of evidence.

    2. avatar Ing says:

      Why concentrate on suicides by firearm? Because guns’re bad, mmkay?

  5. avatar GS650G says:

    Japan has the highest suicide rate and no need for a red flag law. How does that figure in?

    1. avatar KenW says:

      They would have to take all your rope and anything else that could be used to suspend yourself by your neck away and ban you from bridges and towers.
      Hanging is the most common method used in Japan. Next is jumping.

      1. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

        {Japan}

        “They would have to take all your rope and anything else that could be used to suspend yourself by your neck away and ban you from bridges and towers.”

        They have resorted to placing posters in train stations to try and ‘shame’ people into not leaping in front of trains. Phrases on them like “You will inconvenience many people using the train if you ‘Jisatsu’ (suicide) here”…

        1. avatar Mark N. says:

          I have read that they will also charge your family for any damages to the train, and that really reduced the numbers. Though this may have been China instead of Japan. Either way, the suicides did not desire to be a burden to their families after death.

        2. avatar GS650G says:

          Lived there for years. The yamanochi green line was famous for suicides in Tokyo. Many times I was delayed by a death. Especially in the spring when exams wer e taken and people didn t get their way.

      2. avatar David Bradford says:

        Another very common form of suicide in Asian countries is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning (burning BBQ charcoal in an enclosed space). Carbon monoxide poisoning does not cause the body to respond like it would if being suffocated. you continue to breath normally until your brain shuts down from lack of oxygen. The body does not react to lack of oxygen, but to an over abundance of carbon dioxide (CO2 ). You lose consciousness then die peacefully.

      3. avatar Tionico says:

        We MUST ban bedsheets. They might be used as a rope………. can’t be too safe, now, can we?

    2. avatar Eremeya says:

      Not sure where your info comes from but Japan is actually not that far ahead of the US in terms of xx per 100,000. There are a number of countries ahead of both Japan and the US.

  6. avatar Illinois_Minion says:

    Stop introducing reality. It messes with their dreams of utopia.

  7. avatar JAMES R McCLEAN says:

    Wyoming is considered, because of a lack of gun laws, to have a high amount of gun violence.
    In 2017 there were 101 deaths by guns which is high because their population is about 500,000.
    Eighty seven were suicides. Of the remaining fourteen how many were accidental and how many
    were homicides? I used to live in Wyoming and found it to be a very safe place to live, where almost
    everyone owned guns

  8. avatar possum says:

    Black Flag laws would work better. “I’m going to kill myself!!” ,Oh no your not,*BLAM*, hah on your suicide attempt

    1. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

      Marsupials just need to run into traffic, an F-150 will do the job for free… 😉

      1. avatar possum says:

        We call that the turtle solution.

        1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          Speaking of suicide among rodents, WTF is up with the squirrels?

        2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          turtle whacks.
          the tree rats are bored. they dart in front of traffic as a form of chicken. if they make it to the other side, then you know why.
          also particularly adroit at crossing two phases of trans/ dist cable terms. if your hitachi magic wand goes quiet blame the rodents. they must chew and/ or die

  9. avatar Debbie W. says:

    Deaths in hospitals are a problem mainly because when you are around 88 years old and non productive living on SS you are expendable. In other words being elderly and placing your behind in the care of people half your age is an accident waiting to happen. Even if the hospital is guilty of malpractice finding an attorney that will represent what amounts to a well worn tire is next to impossible. If you are old and making big money like Joan Rivers was and you can show a big dollar loss due to malpractice you might find an attorney.
    The only way to protect an elderly loved one is to get a full medical POA and file it with the hosp[ital upon admittance. By all means get copies of all doctor, nurse reports. Every thing you say is written down by individuals who really are not your pals. If you do not request reports you may never know if what you said was reported correctly. Avoid speaking to doctors over the phone and ask for a meeting and record it. Anything that looks wrong is probably wrong and contact an attorney for advice.
    There are state medical boards that oversee doctors, nurses, etc. Complaint and charge cases in most states are open to the public via the state website. If you think all doctors and nurses are goody two shoes you will think again after reading some of the numerous complaints and sicko charges
    You can file doctor nurse complaints through the state. You can also initiate a malpractice charge on your own providing you have solid evidence like hospital x-rays, etc. You may not win and it may not go anywhere but at least you can drag their incompetent behinds through the mud. Nothing worse than a POS that sees the elderly as being expendable.

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