A Study Opportunity

Gun control advocates are going to be studying the effects of the Heller decision on suicide rates in the District of Columbia.  Fortunately, I think most people are capable of coming to the quite rational conclusion that guns do not cause people to decide to commit suicide.

Public-health researchers have concluded that in homes where guns are present, the likelihood that someone in the home will die from suicide or homicide is much greater.

Studies have also shown that homes in which a suicide occurred were three to five times more likely to have a gun present than households that did not experience a suicide, even after accounting for other risk factors.

But apparently journalists are not capable of this level of deductive reasoning.  But here’s how they conclude it’s the guns:

More than 90 percent of suicide attempts using guns are successful, while the success rate for jumping from high places was 34 percent. The success rate for drug overdose was 2 percent, the brief said, citing studies.

“Other methods are not as lethal,” said Jon Vernick, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore.

My theory on this has long been, people who actually want to kill themselves choose effective tools.  People who are crying out for help and attention choose less effective tools.  There’s no fundamental reason jumping from a high place only has a 34% success rate.  A plunge off the Golden Gate or a tall building or structure, is pretty much guaranteed to be 100% successful if you’re choosing your location based on actually wanting to die.  In Japan, where guns are illegal, and which has a suicide rate much higher than the United States, throwing yourself in front of a high speed train is becoming quite the rage, and I would imagine has an effectiveness rate close to 100%.

9 thoughts on “A Study Opportunity”

  1. Y’know, the right to end one’s own life is still part of our fundamental freedoms. Freedom also means the freedom to make bad/questionable decisions about one’s life and be held responsible for those decisions. I’m just as ultimately responsible for the state of my mental health as I am for my self-defense. Why should I be disarmed so that someone else has to find an alternative means to do what they’ve already resolved to do anyway. Why not let them privately do themselves in at home with a gun rather than horrify/endanger others leaping in front of buses, jumping off a building, stepping onto an electrified rail at a train station, etc. I don’t want to see any of that. Sucks for the cops and medical personnel that have to review the self-shooting scene behind closed doors afterwards, but that’s the line of work they’re in, it comes with the territory.

  2. After reading that article this morning (where the headline said ‘Surprising Fact’–hardly surprising to people who know how the gun control lobby works. The famous ‘guns are 43 times more likely to kill an owner or family member than an invading criminal’ statistic is often repeated without mentioning that 39 of the 43 were suicides), I looked around at suicide rates around the world. According to this wikipedia list, the US is pretty much right in the middle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

    Many countries with very strict gun control top the US, sometimes by significant amounts. Of course, if owning a gun makes makes you 3 to 5 times more likely to commit suicide, and the US has the highest per capita gun ownership in the world, maybe banning them would reduce our suicide rates to the lowest in the world. We should probably also ban ropes (hanging is now more popular than shooting oneself among teenagers), razors, knives, and prescription drugs, as well.

  3. Maybe the gun control advocates can conveniently spike their own results…starting with themselves.

  4. I’m going to go out on a limb here, and suggest that the suicide rate in DC should drop, post-Heller, assuming that DCs newly liberalized gun laws actually result in guns getting into homes legally.
    Before, all you had to look forward to was the kick at the door and an ugly death at the hands of some critter. After, there’s hope of survival: you can shoot back.

  5. The planet consists of water and land. The water will drown you if it gets half a chance, and the land will conspire with its ever present companion gravity to smash you to death should you fall onto it from even a modest height. It’s a dangerous world that we live on. Though while they are both quite lethal, neither water nor land are very effective weapons against a criminal attack. That’s where guns are useful.

  6. The ability to utilize tools is one of the major things that separates us from all other species on the planet. That people with serious intent are smart enough to pick the most effective option available should not be much of a surprise.

  7. If memory serves, the FBI classifies fatal shootings in which a person is shot by another person as either “accidental” or “non-negligent homicide”. In the latter category are both murders and self-defense shootings. Shootings by police officers are counted separately. So the formal calculation of “homicides” and “homicide rates” includes both murders and self-defense slayings; the FBI does not make any distinction in its annual Uniform Crime Report.

    As far as the D.C. statistics in the post-Heller era, it will be interesting to see if there is a different death rate in the “registered” households as opposed to the “unregistered” households. My bet is that a) there will be a vast difference and b) D.C. public-safety officials will try to suppress this information because it will serve to demonstrate the difference between law-abiding gun owners and thugs.

    Further, cities sometimes withhold their homicide data from the FBI until after the publication of the U.C.R. That way, there will be no headlines about which city is “The Murder Capitol of the U.S.A.”

    Baltimore has been doing this for a couple of years now. The headlines do appear, but just not on the front page, because the statistics are a little stale by the time they are published.

  8. I thought the train thing was on the way out, since the government there started charging the families of the deceased for the cleanup and the delays. The NEW go-to method is “detergent suicide” by which the wishing-to-be-deceased mixes commercially available cleaning products together to produce hydrogen sulfide gas. This is a very efficient method, and has been the choice of 517 people in 2008 as last reported, up from 29 in 2007.

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