July 26, 2018


Sharp Increase In Gun Suicides Signals Growing Public Health Crisis (BRIAN MANN, 7/26/18, NPR Morning Edition)

The conversation around gun violence in the U.S. usually focuses on homicides, urban crime and mass shootings. But the overwhelming majority of gun deaths in America don't involve bad guys with guns. They're caused by people deliberately harming themselves. In fact, Paugh's harrowing experience echoes again and again across America, with more than 60 gun-suicides every day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's best data, from 2006 through 2016, show that roughly 218,000 Americans ended their lives using a firearm over that period.

"I believe we have a major public health crisis that we're not doing nearly enough about," said Jennifer Stuber, policy director of Forefront Suicide Prevention at the University of Washington, which works to educate people in gun culture about the risks of firearm suicide. [...]

Suicide attempts are fairly common, Nestadt said, but usually they're unsuccessful. The data show that having a gun available in the home or workplace make those attempts at self-harm far more likely to succeed.

"A firearm ends in death in a suicide attempt about 85 percent of the time, compared to something like poisoning, which only ends in death about 2 percent of the time," he said.

Researchers say suicide tends to be a highly impulsive act. Studies show that if you can limit access to the deadliest means of self-harm, like a pistol or a shotgun, the moment of crisis will often pass quickly. People contemplating suicide usually won't go looking for another way to hurt themselves. Also, people who survive a suicide attempt, after using less lethal means, rarely try again.

Another important finding in Nestadt's research and other studies shows that the people most at risk of gun suicide tend to be white men in America's small towns. That means they're the people most deeply attached to gun culture.

Posted by at July 26, 2018 4:01 AM