Researchers: Guns in the Home Increase Youth Suicide

courtesy The Independent

“Research” carried out using somewhat dubious means and with iffy parameters…

“For each 10 percentage-point increase in household gun ownership, the youth suicide rate increased by 26.9 percent,” they wrote in their report, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“The only other factors that were associated with overall youth suicide rates were the suicide attempt rate and the percentage of youth who were Native American,” they added.

In Alaska, for instance, the youth suicide rate is 15.2 suicides per 100,000 people aged 19 and under. Just under 60 percent of households have guns. In South Dakota, the suicide rate is 14.9 per 100,000 and again, just under 60 percent of homes had guns in 2004.

In New York and New Jersey, the youth suicide rate is 2.7 and 2.6 per 100,000. In New York, 18.5 percent of households had guns and in New Jersey, 11.4 percent did.

Gun ownership may in fact be driving the rise in suicide rates, the researchers said.

– Maggie Fox for NBC News, State by State Study Links Gun Ownership with Youth Suicide

You know what’s wrong? Our mental health care system is broken. Perhaps more attention should be paid to its repair.

comments

  1. avatar st381183 says:

    Corration does NOT equal causation. How many households owned a car? 98% of youth suicides happen in households that own a vehicle. Vehicles are driving up the youth suicide rate! Or steak knives, or baseball hats, or sectional sofas…..the study is flawed. How many of these suicides were by firearms? How.many would have occurred anyways?

    1. avatar Bolt Upright says:

      I’d consider suicide if that abomination of an AR in the picture was the only one I could have. What is that thing? A S&W 15-22? That has got to be the dumbest front sight. And why get a quad rail and then put rail covers on it. Good thing there’s no mag in it. No need to aim.

      Maybe the suicide study should have asked what kind of guns were in the house. I bet there’s a negative correlation between gun quality and suicide. Snobbery Saves Lives.

      1. avatar 300BlackoutFan says:

        Yes it’s the original S&W M&P 15-22 with quad rail and “iron sights” (non MOE version).

        People put the rail covers on because they don’t like to chew up their hands since they don’t wear gloves. Probably more comfortable for youth shooters.

        Changing out the handguard on a 15-22 isn’t like changing the handguard on a AR-15…. Requires special tools and components.

        The 15-22 is a great rifle, and something I started my wife and kids with before getting them more involved. She has her finger off the trigger, so why should she me looking down the sights?

        Perhaps you could be inclusive and accepting of other firearms and people, and fewer people will commit suicide as a result.

        1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

          ^ What 300BlackoutFan said.

    2. avatar burley says:

      what about social media accounts?!

      1. avatar zerofoo says:

        I’m willing to bet that Facebook and Twitter have pushed more people to suicide than guns ever will.

        1. avatar Pikupp Andropov says:

          Facebook and Twitter? What, with their terms of service and secure updates?

          Don’t shoot the messaging app.

    3. avatar statmatt says:

      100%. I’m a statistician professionally, and you can see right through this blatant attempt to misattribute causation. I guarantee you they didn’t correctly match case to control and the effect is an artifact of the bias in their observational data.

      1. avatar BC says:

        I think they need to look at the snow mobile ownership rates between the four listed states. I suspect they’ll find an even higher rate of correlation.

        1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

          How many people use snow mobiles in suicides?

          Very few, I suspect.

          How many use firearms?

          Wait…

          See how that works?

      2. avatar JohnS says:

        And, as always, there is no reliable measurement of ‘gun ownership’ in the general population, so any attempt to correlate a behavior with gun ownership is doomed from the start.

      3. avatar BR says:

        It is far more likely that low population density (Alaska and the Dakotas have low densities and NY and NJ have high population densities) leads to higher suicide (something sociologists demonstrated many times in the past) and that combined with modern social media has only made it worse for the demographics more likely to get a social media addiction, such as adolescents.

        While I’m mentioning it high population densities leads to higher violent crime rates so really you are just trading one problem for another. Best solution? Don’t take away anyone’s rights to self defense as suicide rates are not affected by firearms ownership, but surviving a grizzly or rapist attack has a positive correlation with gun ownership.

      4. avatar DrWohl says:

        the blurb states that the overall suicide rate is higher in states with more guns, but doesnt state the difference is all gun suicides or if the difference between low and high rate states is due to other contributing factors such as drugs or other negatives.

    4. avatar Soros says:

      CBS, NBC and CNN reports Japan has more guns per household than anywhere else in earth and because of easy access to guns children from the age of 2 have committed over 35,000 suicides annually.

      Japan’s gun lobby controls the National Rifle Association.

  2. avatar Ruthless Objectivity says:

    So… what? As has been mentioned, correlation != causation. More importantly, however, is the question of agency. A gun did not nor will it ever cause someone to kill themselves. If a person chooses to end his or her own life, that decision is on nobody but the individual making it. The only thing guns do is make the attempt more likely to succeed.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Ruthless Objectivity,

      With respect to agency (free will) and suicide, I am not even convinced that ready access to a firearm increases the probability of successful suicide.

      If a person is determined to kill themselves and no firearms are available, all they need to do is drive a car into a pillar of a highway overpass at 100 m.p.h. Equally simple and guaranteed alternate methods are available as well.

      Of course these facts do not matter to gun grabbers. Their only concern is shouting about how firearms “enable” suicide to erode public support for firearm ownership.

      1. avatar BR says:

        Indeed. If what the wannabee-slave-owners (gun control supporters) say was actually accurate then Japan would be marvelously suicide free as they are essentially gun free, but Japan has one of the absolute highest suicide rates of any developed country. Period. So that said it is evident when you consider that every other country cannot prove a link to guns and suicide and Japan demonstrates its fallacy perfectly that gun ownership in no way increases suicide rates or success.

        And no country can prove that gun ownership causes violent crime either. In fact at worst the evidence indicates that it has no relation, and at best it DOES have an element that LOWERS rates of violent crime. Not only that but historical analysis suggests that civilian firearm ownership deters government atrocities (example: Holocaust) to its population, the single killer of the most people in human history.

        In short. Guns do NOT equal suicide. Guns do NOT equal violent crime. Guns DO stop criminals. Civilian gun ownership LIKELY DOES lower violent crime. Civilian gun ownership DOES prevent government atrocities. Civilian gun ownership IS important and necessary.

        Though here at TTAG, my fellow POTG, I’m preaching to the choir.

  3. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

    One more time, in harmony…
    Correlation doth not equal causation.
    And really, they couldn’t think of any other reason teens in Alaska and Montana might decide to take their lives other than the presence of guns in the house? I know both states can be great places but some people get depressed in cold dark places…

  4. avatar Shire-man says:

    Really, the gun made them do it? Maybe in AK and SD there’s sweet fuckall for an angsty, awkward teen mired in social media to do whereas in areas like NY even the most awkward and forsaken loser can find other awkward and forsaken losers to hang with and talk to.

    1. avatar Napresto says:

      Living in NY and teaching angsty, awkward teens, I can attest that there is certainly some kind of truth in that…

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Shire-man,

      I think you may have actually hit on the most important causal factor BY FAR AND AWAY for suicide: social isolation. Alaska and South Dakota have VERY low population densities which contribute to social isolation. Alaska and South Dakota also have very cold weather which also contributes to social isolation.

      THAT could very well be the greatest factor in suicide attempts since integrated, socially connected, and happy people rarely seek suicide.

      1. avatar Micah says:

        but according to the article,“The only other factors that were associated with overall youth suicide rates were the suicide attempt rate and the percentage of youth who were Native American.” Apparently, it didn’t occur to them that living in a state where the sun doesn’t come up during the winter may cause depression…

        1. avatar Skeptic_Realist says:

          That’s a common misconception. The suicide rate in Alaska, and many other high latitude areas, is actually low in the winter, and peaks in late spring/early summer.

        2. avatar CC says:

          Actually it is altitude and native Americans population completely driving the elevated suicide numbers.

          Living at higher altitude, among populations that have not had say 20 generations to develop red blood cell ratio evolutionary responses, is absolutely established correlation, and the causation mechanism is know since constant slight hypoxia has been proven to drive depression.

          Native American populations, both in the lower 48 and Alaska (and Hawaii) have established in the DNA science, genetic predisposition to both depression and substance addiction.

          Fact is in all the places with higher gun suicide, there is also higher NON GUN suicide, clearly indicating guns are not causal.

  5. avatar 300BlackoutFan says:

    Some interesting graphics here:
    https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

    Shows suicides per state, also by age group, ethnicity. It shows clearly that as people get older, they tend to commit suicide more, and people less than 24 years old commit FEWER suicides per 100,000 than those in any other 10 year age bracket…

  6. avatar Bob Jones says:

    Japan has a higher suicide rate than the USA and almost no private gun ownership.
    There is no logical correlation between suicides and firearm ownership.

    1. avatar Shik says:

      I would guess there is probably a correlation between firearms ownerships and successfult suicides, vs some attempted other methods.

      Not that I disagree with the spirit of your post.

  7. avatar Wiregrass says:

    Gee. Maybe we should stop fueling our economy with endless wars? You think maybe that might have an impact?

  8. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Lets take a place that most consider an outlier suicide wise and compare it to NYC. There can’t be a thousand other reasons there may be issues.

    1. avatar Wiregrass says:

      Yes it couldn’t possibly be something like going 6 months without seeing the sun.

  9. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    Maybe the suicide rate is high in AK and ND because it is f*cking cold and miserable.

  10. avatar FedUp says:

    So a 40% increase in gun ownership increases youth suicides by 107%?

    Yeah, that doesn’t pass the smell test.

  11. avatar ollie says:

    Most US teenage suicides are probably caused by peer bullying or peer cruelty. Probably most schools shootings, too. Teaching teens to treat everyone with dignity and respect might help matters, but is likely impossible to achieve.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      That won’t happen. It is a established tradition for bullies and thugs, sorry, jocks and athletes to bully and intimidate the nerds or anyone else not like them.

      And with the wonders of technology, the bullying no longer ends at the school gate. It can be carried on relelentlessly 24×7.

  12. avatar burley says:

    The sick part about this article is that people who tend to be in the disarmament camp also tend to be pro abortion and pro euthanasia. They aren’t concerned with dead kids now, their concern is dead politicians later.

  13. avatar LibertyToad says:

    That is a statistically stupid statement. It is like saying that automobiles cause more automobile deaths. That is not serious “research”.

  14. avatar strych9 says:

    Hmmm… AK and SD both have long, cold and dark winters.

    But if we look at the rates for suicide by state we also find that the top 10 states tend to have low population density and a relatively high poverty rate. Six of the ten also have long, cold dark winters. Two of the states (Alaska and Montana) rated “worst” for alcohol abuse (3 and 4 respectively) also are the top two for suicide (2 and 1 respectively) and both have long, dark cold winters.

    Way, way too much going on here to lay the blame on firearms.

    1. avatar Travis says:

      SD and AK have large native population, I’ve been on the reservations, not a lot of hope in life.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        It’s the same in New Mexico which is number 4 for suicides but is also 45th for drinking.

      2. avatar Skeptic_Realist says:

        Bingo! We have a winner.

        At least in AK, the suicide rate among the Athabaskan (Native American) population is 16 times the national average.

    2. avatar MyName says:

      Wonder if these same researchers could conclude that snow shovels increase the suicide rate.

      It seems that no matter how often it is stated that, “correlation does not equal causation,” some so-called researchers will be determined to claim that it does.

      I’m working on a landmark study that I expect will show that automobile insurance claims for hail damage are largest for automobile dealers. Car dealerships cause hail.

  15. avatar Jason says:

    We should at least consider that this might be true, because a gun is a lot surer way to commit suicide than most others. It won’t make you attempt suicide, but you’re a lot more likely to succeed in killing yourself than by most common methods.

    I don’t see this as a reason not to own a gun, but it is one more reason to secure your firearms and to know your kid well so you know what is safe for him or her.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      “…because a gun is a lot surer way to commit suicide than most others.”

      I would argue this point, but for the purposes of this discussion I will simply accept it as verifiable true.

      If we assume that a gun is a easier and more effective way to kill oneself then we have to conclude that a possible reason for the gun being chosen is because the person committing suicide is more serious about wanting to die than those that choose other methods. Other people might just be crying out for help but those that choose the gun really do want to die.

      I’m not saying it’s the case. I’m saying it’s possible and it is very hard to know since the dead tend not to be very forthcoming when questioned.

  16. avatar StLPro2A says:

    Home life and parental skills are probably the cause of youth suicide. Parents aren’t giving their kids the life skills to deal with life and be a successful citizen. God, personal responsibility, self sufficiency, personal initiative, and mental toughness to deal with life are lacking in the majority of homes today……especially in the Black community. Much of this is promoted by Democratic/Progressive/Socialist agendas in breaking down the family unit, confusing gender roles and emasculating boys, pushing God out of our society, and destroying traditional American values. Our country is under attack from within.

  17. avatar Anymouse says:

    Mississippi and Alabama show opposite of their study (low suicide, high gun ownership). They claim it’s because the black population is high, and they tend not to commit suicide. It would be easy to determine the white teen percentage of suicides and normalize to compare with North Dakota or Alaska racial breakdown. Sounds like selection/confirmation bias by a publication that has a history of having an anti-gun bend.

  18. avatar m. says:

    “presence of communist, muslim-appeasing, un-constitutional lawyers in government increases rights-infringement of law-abiding gun-owners” – an unpublished study

  19. avatar Chris Hammers says:

    Suicide ATTEMPT rate also had correlation….like WTF. That’s you answer, right there.

  20. avatar John Boch says:

    The presence of milk in the home also increases youth suicide. And almost all youth who have committed suicide have consumed milk in their lives.

    Hence, by this logic discussed in this half-assed journal, if we only removed milk from the homes, suicide would become a thing of the past.

  21. avatar bud says:

    The entire field of psychology is a political psuedo-science and always has been. The purveyor of psychology is Freud who was the uncle of Edward Bernays who worked for the Committee on Public Information to foment anti-hun hysteria in the US during WW1 to turn the people against germany, of which, a vast majority of Americans were the descendants of.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-woodrow-wilsons-propaganda-machine-changed-american-journalism-180963082/

    When fields of medical sciences all join to try to pile on at the same time that the elite are trying to develop slow gun-confiscation, it should cause people to question what governs the fields. The entire education system is subverted, licensing processes are bureaucratic and simply gate-keep the practicing of the fields. Things like medicine and psychology should be meritocratic and skill based, governed by natural economics. The prospect of accidentally killing someone and word of mouth rumor that some doctor has no idea what theyre doing, should be enough of a barrier to safe-guard those fields. instead there is a mass-production model, guarded by regulatory control and protected by insurance schemes. There are often terrible doctors that practice under the protection of state and large private hospitals who negligently harm or kill patients who have no real ability to research the doctor due to protectionism of the industry. It’s a very dangerous mistake to assume that the same incompetence that brought us to where we are today in this country, would somehow produce an effective medical industry. It simply makes no sense and on top of that, it’s one of the many conduits which allows communism to flourish in the country be simply claiming it isnt, while enforcing wage and price control.

    The reason all these quacks are jumping on the same bandwagon about making firearms a medical purview, is because through their chain of funding, they are owned by the same people pushing gun control. Such is the state of communism. Failure to recognize this fact will only lead to Americans scratching their heads and chasing their own tails as the nation continues to fall away from Constitutionality.

  22. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    I argue this point with anti gun friends all the time, the headline is disingenuous, it doesn’t lead to more suicide it *potentially* leads to a higher success rate of attempted suicides.

    I get it, its designed to push the blame onto guns, not onto the system that has failed to the point that our children think suicide is the only way out, or parents who are so disconnected that they dont notice their kids are struggling with depression, or a system that doesnt punish bullies and at the same time teaches kids they are the devil incarnate if they try and fight back.

    As a parent, I’d obviously hope if my kids tried to kill themselves that they would be unsuccessful, but from a searching for solutions to the problem standpoint, an unsuccessful suicide attempt should be seen as just as bad as a successful one.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I was bullied until I bloodied a few noses, and then punished for defending myself, in the early ’60s, and so was one of my sons, 25 years later. If it has not changed one iota since then, I don’t think it ever will, regardless of what we try to do about it.

      1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

        Same here (but in the 90’s-00’s), I think the one saving grace was that back then we could leave all of that crap behind us when we went home, now kids are bathed in the stuff from sun rise to sunset… didnt get invited to the party? You’ll spend all weekend seeing snaps and pictures of it flooding your social media feed. Someone made fun of what you wear? There will be 100 different memes of it ridiculing you circulated halfway around the city by the next day.

  23. avatar Fully Involved says:

    In addition to the correlation ≠ causation fact, people need to reeeally get into the habit of registering the term “One study showed…” as “Somebody once said that…”.
    Referencing studies without looking at the actual full-study itself (and being well versed in scientific principles and statistical analysis to properly assess the article) is about as legitimate as saying “I read it on the internet so of course it’s true!”

    I am a first author of a scientific article and I’ve worked at the NIH, so I’m familiar with the peer-review process (that research articles must undergo before they are published) and I’ve experienced first-hand some of the shady practices involved in that process. Here’s an example of what i mean:
    The peer-review process is supposed to be objective, logical and not intended to promote any one researcher but the field as a whole. However, we are human, selfish and will take advantage of a situation if we think we can get away with it. The reviewers are supposed to be anonymous peers in the same field as you, but you can be pretty damn sure who the reviewer is because they’ll reject your article and strooongly recommend citing a specific article (or articles) by a specific researcher in the same field (i.e. the reviewer wants you to cite his/her articles as to increase his/her apparent impact on the field). Other times some grad student (who doesnt know what he/she is talking about) shits all over your submission in an attempt to impress their professors. You cant address the reviewer directly to correct them so now you got to fudge around with your article to appease those reviewers just to get published. So the whole process is far from being perfectly objective, unbiased and logical. And this is all with regards to a politically-neutral subject. I cant even begin to imagine the fuckery that goes on when reviewing an article involving a politically-charged subject.

  24. avatar LarryinTX says:

    Having successfully herded two sons through the “obnoxious little shit” phase, I would be more concerned about the possibility of child murders in a home which has firearms, sometimes it just seems like *such* a good idea!

    1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

      “I would be more concerned about the possibility of child murders in a home which has firearms, sometimes it just seems like *such* a good idea!”

      “I brought you into this world, I can damn sure take you out!”

      – Bill Cosby…

      1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

        He actually said that once!

        *snicker* 😉

      2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        my nonagenarian mother contends to this day, in reference to all those adorable tots that, “they have to be cute, or else they’d all be dead,”

  25. avatar NORDNEG says:

    If some kid wants to commit suicide, they will find a way to do it , gun or no gun, most the time their trying to make a statement, so using a gun just makes it more dramatic for people viewing the aftermath, even crazy kids want attention, before or after death, look for the cause, leave the guns alone, guns don’t go out looking for something to kill, they just lay around till someone decides to use it. Because some kids have mental issues is not a reason to take normal peoples stuff away…

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      There is some hardwired stuff going on in our heads that no one can change, and no one knows how it happens. A family friend lost a daughter to suicide some years back, the girl was 13 and had attempted several times previously, like since she was 9, succeeded while in a locked ward facility for the treatment of suicidal adolescents, hung herself with a bedsheet. That makes no sense to most of us, WTF does a kid that age (with loving and attentive parents) have anywhere in their lives to be that depressed about?

  26. avatar possum says:

    Wine is fine but whiskeys quicker, suicide is slow with liquor. Grab a gun and end your sorrow.

  27. avatar Cory C. says:

    Let’s see the data. I’m willing to bet they fudged some numbers, per the usual. Never mind the fact that correlation is not causation.

  28. avatar Yarbles says:

    The mental healthcare system is broken.

    How many of these youths attempting suicide were on SSRIs and SNRIs and other antidepressant prescription drugs?

    Correlation does not mean causation. Many other factors to be considered by these charlatans and they know it.

  29. avatar Gliderguy says:

    From the limited sample they give, I doubt they even controlled for number of hours of sunlight per day with Alaska leading the way. And everyone knows darkness has nothing to do with mood (or with how many hours one spends on social media)

  30. avatar Aaron says:

    The suicide rate in gunless South Korea is HIGHER than the US murder rate and suicide rate COMBINED.

    I call bullshat on the so-called “study”.

  31. avatar Skeptic_Realist says:

    Time for some math:

    10 seconds on google led me here: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm

    In 2016, there were 22,938 (23k) deaths by suicide involving a firearm. Overall ‘successful’ suicides that year numbered 44,965 (45k). So, a little over half of ‘successful’ suicides were by firearm.

    According to Everytown’s own page on firearm suicide, a suicide attempt with a firearm has an 85% ‘success’ rate. That means there were about 27k suicide attempts with a firearms in 2016.

    From the CDC, total number of patients admitted to an ER with intentional self inflicted injuries, is 575,000.

    *Record Screech*

    Over half a million. That leaves suicide attempts involving a firearm in the US at less than 5% of suicide attempts. Amazingly, Everytown even admits this on their own page.

    Obviously, something else is a much larger factor in suicide attempt rate than gun ownership.

  32. avatar CC says:

    We have a great laboratory in what happened in Australia, because it suddenly and broadly reduced gun access by about 50% in the space of a year.

    For about ten years after they engaged in a lot of self congratulations for reducing suicide, and then then years later, after a half dozen peer reviewed studies, found that removing guns die not reduce suicide one iota. Zero reduction.

    What the studies that specifically looked at reporting rates found was that means other than guns or self hanging are grossly under reporting, misclassified as accidental death, and when guns were removed, “accidental” self-caused death by means associated with suicide, but ruled accidental, skyrocketed.

    There are a dozen methods of suicide. Six peer reivwed studies interviewing cornors, medical examiners, established that in three major methods, self caused gunshot to the head, exsanguination, and self hanging, the medical examiner will being the investigaion with a bias or even more often a presumption of sucide. In all other self caused death by means associated with suicide, such as overdose, falls from hieghts, single car single pasenger car crashes into static objects, non hanging asphixia, stepping in front of a train, drowning from a beach, etc) the medical examiner begins with a bias or presumption of accidental death.

    In Australia for every ten gun suicides reduced, they found five additional non gun suicides, and seven additional “accidental” self caused deaths that the researches now believe were all suicides. Unless one was to posit, that preciceley following Australiaia gun confiscaition, people in Australia suddenly became more accident prone and lethally clumsy for example “accidentally” asphyxiating themselves in 1999 at 280% the rate they were in 1992.

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