Skip to main content

Editor's Note: This diary is part of the Firearm Law and Policy group's ongoing Guns and Suicide series.  The first installment of the series can be found here.

Introduction

Firearms are very popular in America.  While exact figures are lacking, the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey estimates that there are 270 million guns among the U.S. civilian population.  This makes Americans the best-armed civilian population in the world, with an estimated 89 firearms per 100 people, far surpassing the second best-armed country in the world (Yemen with an estimated 55 firearms per 100 people).  And yet, Americans continue to buy yet more firearms.  According to many business analysts, gun sales in America have increased dramatically in the past decade (link; link)

This national enthusiasm for firearms may come at a price.  Every year, over 100,000 Americans suffer a gunshot injury, and over 30,000 of these are fatal gunshot injuries.  The majority of these fatal gunshot injuries are self-inflicted (Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data).  In the United States, guns are used more often in completed suicides than any other suicide method (link).  A recent study by the CDC reported that among middle-aged Americans, both the overall incidence of suicide and the incidence of suicide using a gun have been increasing in the USA (link).

It is possible that rising gun sales and the increasing number of guns in America plays a role in the increasing number of gun suicides.  We used a measure of gun sales in the USA to correlate yearly gun sales with yearly counts of fatal gunshot injuries, gun homicides and gun suicides.  Based on previous studies of gun purchases and violent death, we hypothesized that gun sales are positively associated with gun suicides.

The Data  

Yearly data on fatal gunshot injuries came from the CDC's Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System.  We reviewed yearly counts of total fatal gunshot injuries, homicides by gunshot, and suicides by gunshot.  For comparison purposes, we also included yearly counts of fatal bicycle injuries.  Bicycles were chosen as a comparator because bicycles, like guns, are highly popular and ubiquitous in America, and unlike guns, bicycles are not design to injure and kill others.

There is no source of accurate reliable data on yearly gun sales.  We used the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as a surrogate marker of gun sales.  Beginning in 1998, all federally licensed firearms dealers have been required to use the FBI NICS to determine if a prospective buyer is eligible to purchase firearms or explosives.  The FBI maintains a database of  yearly inquiries to the NICS.  The FBI NICS data only tracks transactions taking place at federally licensed firearms dealers, and not those occurring through private sales, unlicensed firearms dealers, or illicit sales. It is important to note that a FBI NICS inquiry does not indicate that a gun was actually sold.  I have chosen to use this data as a surrogate for gun sales because: 1) the FBI is a non-partisan and nationally recognized organization with extensive experience collecting accurate statistics; 2) the FBI NICS data covers the nation as a whole and is available every year back to 1999; and 3) I can find no better source for good reliable data on US gun sales.  Because the FBI NICS data only involves prospective purchases at federally licensed firearms dealers, and not transactions made through non-licensed dealers and private sales, the NICS data is widely acknowledged to underestimate national gun sales and therefore provides a very conservative measure of actual guns sales.  Linear regression was then used to look for trends and correlations in the data.

The yearly counts of fatal gunshot injuries, homicides by gun, suicides by gun fatal bicycle injuries, and FBI-NCIS inquiries are shown in Table 1.  Not surprisingly, fatal gunshot injuries are far more common than fatal bicycle injuries, and suicides by gun make up a larger portion of fatal gunshot injuries than do homicides by gun.  The yearly counts of fatal gunshot injuries, suicides by gun, and FBI-NICS inquires all show a clear and fairly steady increasing trend.  The yearly counts of homicides by gun show a steady increasing trend for the years 1999 through 2006, but appear to decline after 2006.  The yearly counts of fatal bicycle injuries bounce around between a low of 740 in 2000, and a high of 927 in 2005: no discernible trend upwards or downward in fatal bicycle injuries is apparent..

Table 1.  Yearly counts of gunshot injuries and NICS inquiries.

    Year - Fatal GS - Homicide1 - Suicide1 - Bicycles  -   NCIS*
    1998       --            --             --            --         9.138
    1999 -  28,874  -   10,828   -  16,599  -    800    -   8.543
    2000 -  28,663  -   10,801   -  16,586  -    740    -   8.910
    2001 -  29,573  -   11,348   -  16,896  -    792    -   8.454
    2002 -  30,242  -   11,829   -  17,108  -    767    -   8.481
    2003 -  30,136  -   11,920   -  16,907  -    762    -   8.687
    2004 -  29,559  -   11,674   -  16,750  -    843    -   8.952
    2005 -  30,694  -   12,352   -  17,602  -    927    -  10.036
    2006 -  30,896  -   12,791   -  16,883  -    926    -  11.177
    2007 -  31,224  -   12,632   -  17,352  -    820    -  12.709
    2008 -  31,593  -   12,179   -  18,223  -    893    -  14.033
    2009 -  31,347  -   11,493   -  18,735  -    785    -  14.409
    2010 -  31,672  -   11,078   -  19,392  -    793    -  16.454

Fatal GS – Fatal gunshot injuries
Homicide – Gun homicides
Suicide – Gun suicides
Bicycles – Fatal bicycle injuries
FBI-NICS – Inquiries made to the FBI-NICS (*in millions)
1 – numbers of homicides and suicides do not sum to total fatal gunshot injuries, because total fatal gunshot injuries also includes unintentional and other types of fatal gunshot injuries.

Measures of gunshot and bicycle injuries were regressed on the  FBI-NCIS data.  The data for fatal gunshot injuries, suicides by gun and FBI-NCIS inquires all showed a positive beta, that was significantly different from zero, indicative of a statistically significant increase in the yearly counts for these variables.  The slope of the trend lines for fatal bicycle injuries and homicides by gun were not significantly different from zero, indicating no overall increase or decrease in these two measures.  Values for r (the correlation coefficient), it's measure of significance, and r2 (amount of variance) were as follows:
 - fatal gunshot injuries: r = 0.849 (p < 0.001); r2 = 0.720
 - gun suicides: r = 0.917 (p < 0.001); r2 = 0.842
 - gun homicides: r = -0.216 (p = 0.501); r2 = 0.042
 - fatal bicycle injuries: r = 0.193 (p = 0.547); r2 = 0.037

Both total fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides are highly and positively correlated with the FBI-NICS data, while neither gun homicides nor fatal bicycle injuries are correlated with the FBI-NCIS data.

Discussion.  

This study looked for trends and associations in measures of gun sales, fatal gunshot injuries, gun homicides and gun suicides.  Gun sales as measured by the FBI-NICS data, fatal gunshot injuries, and gun suicides were all shown to be increasing over the study period.  No discernible increase or decrease was found in the measures of gun homicides and  fatal bicycle injuries.  A very strong and statistically significant positive correlation was found between gun sales and fatal gunshot injuries, and for gun sales and gun suicides.  These finding support the hypothesis that gun sales are positively tied to fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides.  No such correlation was found when examining gun sales and gun homicides, nor for gun sales and bicycle injuries.

The association of  gun sales with total fatal gunshot injuries and of gun sales with gun suicides were both positive: as gun sales increase, we can expect increases in both the total number of fatal gunshot injuries and the number of gun suicides.  The association of gun sales with fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides were both remarkably high (r = 0.849 and 0.917, respectively) and highly statistically significant.  These results adds to a growing body of scientific literature that associates access to firearms with an increased risk of suicide.  There are now at least twelve peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that a gun in the home is associated with an increased risk of violent death or suicide (link; link; link)

Interestingly, there was no association found for gun homicides and gun sales.  This is unexpected because gun enthusiasts attribute recent FBI-documented decreases in crime to greater availability of guns in America (link).  While the yearly counts of gun homicides suggest a downward trend for the years 2006 through 2010, no overall trend upwards or downwards in gun homicides was apparent over the entire study period.  Moreover, there was no association positively or negatively of gun homicides with gun sales.  In the case of homicides committed with a gun, there is no evidence of a reduction in crime associated with rising gun sales.

The positive correlation of gun sales with both fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides indicates that as gun sales increase, so too will fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides.  Likewise, if gun sales were to decrease, then we can expect a similar decrease (at a level of 0.8-0.9 to 1) in the incidence of fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides.  This positive correlation suggests that one effective way to reduce the occurrence of both fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides is to decrease gun sales.

This study suffers from the limitation of using the FBI-NCIS data as a surrogate for gun sales.  Most knowledgeable observers believe the FBI-NICS data under-counts the true number of gun sales.  Assuming the under-count is the same year to year, this under-count would not alter the upward trend in gun sales, nor change the positive association of gun sales with both total fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides.  Sadly, there is no reliable and replicable measure of national gun sales or gun availability.  At the request of the gun industry and gun advocates, the federal government is prohibited by law from keeping a database or registry of national gun ownership.  The FBI-NICS data is the best measure currently available of gun sales in America.

Even with this limitation, this study is unique because it provides for the first time a direct comparison of gunshot injuries with a measure of the number of guns available to the public.  Previous studies of guns and gun suicides used comparisons of suicide cases with control cases to examine the role of guns, or relied on telephone surveys to estimate the number of guns in the study sample.

Conclusions

Gun sales, total fatal gunshot injuries, and gun suicides have all significantly increased since 1999.  Both total fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides are positively associated with increasing gun sales.  While gun homicides have not increased as have total fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides since 1999, there is no clear association of increasing gun sales with decreasing gun homicides.  Lastly, we can expect reductions in gun sales to be accompanied by decreases in total fatal gunshot injuries and gun suicides.

The Daily Kos Firearms Law and Policy group studies actions for reducing firearm deaths and injuries in a manner that is consistent with the current Supreme Court interpretation of the Second Amendment.  We also cover the many positive aspects of gun ownership, including hunting, shooting sports, and self-defense.

To see our list of original and republished diaries, go to the Firearms Law and Policy diary list. Click on the ♥ or the word "Follow" next to our group name to add our posts to your stream, and use the link next to the heart to send a message to the group if you have a question or would like to join.

We have adopted Wee Mama's and akadjian's guidance on communicating.  But most important, be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Originally posted to Firearms Law and Policy on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  A Gun is a Pretty Efficient Way... (4+ / 0-)

    ...to kill yourself... so when someone decides they REALLY want to die (vs wanting attention) they're going to look to a gun if it's available.

    So the correlation is obvious.

    I don't think that indicates any causation though.

    You could make the case that with zero guns, many suicides would be less likely to succeed... but that presumes if someone is really "serious" they won't find another way.

    •  more information on suicide prevention.... (13+ / 0-)

      as a public health issue.  How matters, since 85% of those who chose a firearm are successful.

      “But when we compared people in gun-owning households to people not in gun-owning households, there was no difference in terms of rates of mental illness or in terms of the proportion saying that they had seriously considered suicide,” Barber says. “Actually, among gun owners, a smaller proportion say that they had attempted suicide. So it’s not that gun owners are more suicidal. It’s that they’re more likely to die in the event that they become suicidal, because they are using a gun.”
      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/...

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:12:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Suicide is very often impulsive.... (14+ / 0-)

        but guns make that impulse "successful."  

        The pro-firearms ownership folks seem to think suicide is inevitable in most cases and don't understand that interventions can save lives.  This is a good reason to chose personally not to own a firearm or have one in your home.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:24:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Suicide is very often planned weeks or (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          43north

          even months in advance.  People who commit suicide have often talked about with other repeatedly.  It's not uncommon for them have spent a great deal of time determining exactly what method to use.

          Most of what people think they know about suicide - from who does it to how they do it to why they do it - is wrong.

          "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

          by JesseCW on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 05:06:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Jesse and Murray - both are correct. (3+ / 0-)

            I dealt with a lot of suicide attempts when employed in NY.
            Where handguns via legal means, were difficult to obtain.
            My career ended in the Clinton-era.

            There were three common assumptions.
            1) suicide blind-sides everyone
            2) guns are the most common way, and waiting periods work best as suicide is an impulse.
            3) failing at suicide, means they'll not try again, they just wanted the attention.

            All were wrong.

            1) there's always a warning sign.  Some physical, some verbal, some emotional.  It's an unusual behavior, not a particular behavior.  Examples: the talkative become withdrawn, the introverted become animated, the weepy become stoic.
            There's an internal war, and you're seeing the smoke, which indicates fire.

            2) Guns weren't the most common way, not in NY.  
            Nor were they the most successful.  That would be leaping into the Hudson River.  People don't have car trouble mid-span, they have life-trouble.  Send a boat with divers, and a cop trained in suicide prevention, not a tow truck.

            Two week waiting periods made for better planning.  Purchase of gun, suicide within a year of doing so.  
            Look to item 1 above, and an important date:
            "The anniversary of my ex-fiance, marrying my ex-best friend".
            "The anniversary of my wife's death."

            3) pre-internet, you learn from other would-be suicidal patients, on how to "do it right next time".

            How you cut wrong, and why they could save you.

            Why walking into traffic wasn't as good a choice as jumping in front of the train.  (won't stop as quick and 700v power on the track).

            Which way to face, when jumping from the bridge.  One choice makes the leap easier, the others are more likely to freeze you in-place.
            A wellspring of information, right there with you.

            There IS one demographic, which makes spontaneous decisions with LITTLE warning.  The warning is there, just not heeded.

            Youth, particularly early to mid teens, subjected to bullying and/or romance heartbreak.
            "I'll show them.  I'll kill myself.  Then they'll be sorry."

            We make the mistake of not taking this, with sufficient seriousness.
            "Oh honey, you'll find someone else.  We all went through this."  

            Message: This is not important.  Why are you bothering me over teenage bullshit?  Get over yourself.

            "I know they are being mean to you, but they're probably going through things at home too.  
            You have to learn to cope with the mean people in life, as they won't just stop or go away.  Have you talked to them?
            How about your Guidance Counselor?  Do you want me to call anyone?  How about one of their mothers?"

            Or worse yet:  
            "I know the Davis family, and I can't believe you'd accuse their child of something like this.  They are very respectable, and influential.  Don't start trouble or our life could be far more difficult.  Try and be nice."

            You just told your child:  Think of someone other than just yourself.

            That.  Leads to suicide.  The newspaper reports:
            Blindsided.  Devastated. We had NO idea, NO warning.
            Yeah, yeah you did.

      •  Wow - that also means that 15% are not successful (8+ / 0-)

        If est. 30,000 gun deaths and 60% are suicides -

        30,000 x 0.6 = 18,000 completed gun suicides
        Basic algebra if 18,000 = 85%
        What is 15% (the uncompleted gun suicides)?

        Approximately 21200 attempts (round down to 21,000)

        Approximately 3200 people have to be treated for gun shot wounds and go on with their lives carrying the stigma and shame of an uncompleted gun suicide attempt.

        Wow! My heart breaks for these people and their families  (completed or uncompleted). I can't help but wonder where the moral center of our country is. It's not just about providing better access to mental health services and (obviously) the 35 years of GOP shredding the safety nets that used to include a stable job for at leas one member of a family and an extended kin network close to the kids.... but I digress.

        I also wonder what if assisted suicide was legal everywhere? What if people would be empowered to tell their doctor "I can't take it any more." or "I don't know how much more I can take" and that would open a conversation where they can be taught about risk and directed to options/services that can help them.

        "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

        by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:54:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We knew a woman who was unsuccessful (5+ / 0-)

          in a gun suicide attempt.  Her left temple was heavily sunken after the healing, so it naturally created questions in kids our age (i.e., 11 and younger), because she was a neighbor of my great grandmother who we visited each summer.  Apparently, she had the gun pointed so far forward that it didn't damage much brain matter and mostly shattered that area of her bone.

          She was able to function on a daily basis, with some limitations (which we didn't see - she often stayed inside the house).  Whenever I saw her, she was usually smiling and/or nice.

          Her kids we played with were happy to still have her in their lives and were rather casual about the matter - must have acclimated to her condition long before we met them.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:24:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This is rather backward reasoning. The people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        43north

        most committed to actually killing themselves use a gun.

        Many suicide attempts, while they are certainly to be taken very seriously, aren't intended to succeed.

        But people who use guns fully intend to die, just as people who leap from extreme heights and most people who hang themselves.

        "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 05:05:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Correlation and Causation (8+ / 0-)

      First off, rare is the person who REALLY WANTS to die.  The vast majority of people who kill themselves do not WANT to die, what they want is a solution to their problems, and they sadly see their death as the only solution.

      Second, too many people who "want attention" pick up a gun and end up killing themselves, when what they might want is something different.

      The correlation tells us how two variables move together (on average).  You are correct this tells us nothing about why those variables move together or what mechanisms are at work to make those variables move together.  The correlation does not say that one variables causes the other to move: it only says the two variables move together.

      Intuitively, it makes sense that increasing guns sales causes more gun suicides.  This is intuitively obvious because guns are designed to kill people: guns cause death.  The correlation tells us the reverse is also true: as gun suicides increase so do gun sales.  This is mathematically correct, but makes less sense intuitively: it should be obvious that suicides do not produce guns, or sell guns.  

      It is possible that people might be induced to buy more guns as a result of hearing about a suicide: "hey, I knew a guy that killed himself with a gun, and I sometimes feel like killing myself, so maybe I'll go buy a gun."  We can imagine that sometimes happens, but that seems like a cumbersome way to explain the relationship between gun sales and gun suicides.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:32:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Think That Wording is Logically Troubling (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        43north
        Intuitively, it makes sense that increasing guns sales causes more gun suicides.
        I agree that you can say logically that it increases the percentage of suicides that are "suicide by gun" but not that it increases the net number of suicide attempts.... at least not without speculating.

        The per capita rate of suicide in Japan--for example--is more than double that in the United States.  Two things that are more common in the life of the average everday Japanese citizen are charcoal burners and rail transit.... and two methods of suicide more popular in Japan than in the United States are jumping in front of a train and self asphyxiation by charcoal burner.  I don't think anyone would argue that an increase in the availability of rail transit or charcoal burners are actually "causing" people to commit suicide.

        •  Suicides vs. percentage of suicides (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          earlybird

          The raw data in the table in the diary shows the number of suicides accomplished with a gun, each year, in the USA.  This number is NOT the number of suicide attempts, and it is NOT the percentage of all suicides done with a gun.

          It is important that we clearly distinguish the numbers of suicides made with a gun, the number of suicide attempts, and the percentage of suicides made with a gun.  These are different numbers that represent different things.  Conflating them only results in confusion.

          I don not know the numbers, but I am guessing that the percentage of Japanese suicides accomplished with a gun is much lower than the percentage of American suicides accomplished with a gun, even tho' the Japanese kill themselves at a higher rate than do Americans.  To what then do we attribute the greater percentage of American suicides accomplished with a gun compared the percentage of Japanese suicides accomplished with a gun?

          I suggest it may have something to do with the greater availability of guns in America compared to Japan.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 11:31:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Near-zero LEGAL gun ownership in Japan (0+ / 0-)

            What was the suicide rate again?

            After the total, unconditional, Japanese surrender in 1945, the US imposed a no military, no firearms culture, upon the Japanese.  Culturally attuned to sumimasen mai shittai, these penalties were presumed just-recompense for Showa-period excesses.

            In the same Cold War era that saw Germany accept re-armament, the Japanese people fought the establishment of the Self Defense Forces.

            This suggests two lessons from Japan:
            1) the US citizens could be disarmed, we just need to defeat them militarily.
            2) A instilled culture of personal fault, personal responsibility, would make for less homicide.  
            More suicide.  But not with guns.

            Eliminate the guns, and the societal problems leave with them.
            No crime.  No violence.  No rape.  No suicide.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      •  Also Let Me Clarify (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW
        First off, rare is the person who REALLY WANTS to die.
        When I said "When someone really wants to die" what I meant was: "When someone really wants their suicide attempt to succeed."  I wasn't getting into the psychological motivations for suicide, obviously.
        •  Understood (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TooFolkGR, LilithGardener

          I think we make too much of this distinction between "real" suicide and "not serious" suicide.

          Because it looks like a lot of the people who die by suicide (using any method) are not people that really wanted to be dead nor are they people who really wanted their suicide attempts to be successful, but end up choosing very lethal means to try and suicide - then then succeed.

          A lot of people who are not serious about killing themselves end up dead because they choose a very lethal means to try and kill themselves.

          And a lot of people who survive a "very serious" suicide attempt (i.e gunshot, jump from a high bridge) will tell us how glad they are that they did not die.

          So a lot of people who are not serious end up dead, and a lot of people who really really tried to kill themselves are glad they did not succeed.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 11:47:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Most people who work in the mental health (0+ / 0-)

            field think we make far too little of it.

            Parasuicide and failed suicide attempts just aren't the same thing.  They don't respond to the same treatment.

            Because it looks like a lot of the people who die by suicide (using any method) are not people that really wanted to be dead nor are they people who really wanted their suicide attempts to be successful, but end up choosing very lethal means to try and suicide - then then succeed.
            This a conclusion without support.  
            And a lot of people who survive a "very serious" suicide attempt (i.e gunshot, jump from a high bridge) will tell us how glad they are that they did not die.
            "A lot" is a very very slippery term.  The truth is, the greatest risk factor for a suicide is a failed suicide attempt.  Many, many people go on to try again.

            "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

            by JesseCW on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 05:16:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Will post some facts for you (0+ / 0-)

              Part of this series on guns and suicide will review the data on who tires to kill themselves and who succeeds, what methods are chosen, and treatment success and failure rates.

              I will back up my statements with facts and data.

              "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

              by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 07:02:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for your insight on this (0+ / 0-)

              Are there any published references you can link to? Or is this observation based on your experience from inside the mental health field?

              Most people who work in the mental health (0+ / 0-)

              field think we make far too little of it.

              Parasuicide and failed suicide attempts just aren't the same thing.  They don't respond to the same treatment.

              "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

              by LilithGardener on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 09:08:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  There's a flaw in the premise of causation. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener

        Fewer homes have guns.  The ones that do have more guns than in the past.  But whether you have one or twenty one guns in your cabinet doesn't change your access to guns.

        People who shoot themselves are usually NOT "crying for help". They usually want to die.  They have often spent time considering when and how they will do it.

        We are aging as a society, which means that a lot more people are moving into high-risk age brackets.  Additionally, the financial stresses of the ongoing economic collapse are believed by most credible researchers to be driving increases in suicide.

        "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 05:12:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are forgetting the diary above (0+ / 0-)

          Old age and financial problems effect all Americans.  Not all Americans try to kill themselves.

          The overwhelming vast majority of completed suicides are done with a gun.  And as the diary above demonstrates, as more guns get sold, more people kill themselves with guns.

          No doubt gun enthusiasts would like to distract the public from these facts with their fact-free opinions about who kills themselves and why they decide to do it (keep in mind that people under high levels of stress might not be able to "decide" on suicide like people decide on whether to have chicken or pork for dinner).

          However, if one looks at the facts, having a gun around is a risk factor for a completed suicide.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 07:21:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What? (0+ / 0-)

            That's like saying that most people who eat tons of sugar don't get diabetes.

            These are the risk factors.

            The very basic fact is that fewer homes have guns in them, while those that do have more and more guns.  That's not an issue of anyones biase but of fundamental reason.

            Boomers are getting older and they're killing themselves.

            Gun sales are also increasing because advertisers have found a way to convince people that they need stockpiles of guns.

            No doubt, those with large amounts of emotional baggage that make it impossible for them to actually talk about guns (rather than their feelings about guns) all have reasons for ignoring reality when they make their arguments.

            "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

            by JesseCW on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 01:45:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Research you can link to? Thanks (0+ / 0-)

          Peer-reviewed research is preferred, and I assume you can find that since your making broad declarative statements about a pretty specific subset of self-harm behavior.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 09:10:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Not necessarily. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, Glen The Plumber

      There are many cases where the person ends up with severe brain damage and hooked up to machines the rest of his life.

      Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

      by dov12348 on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:04:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That would pretty much require ignoring (0+ / 0-)

      countries like Japan and South Korea.

      The highest suicide rates aren't in countries where firearms are available, with the exception of Finland.

      "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

      by JesseCW on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 05:02:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Logical fallacy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, JesseCW

    Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc.

    Speaking as one trained in both statistics and logic, just because there seems to be a correlation does not mean there is a correlation.

    Incidentally, I used to teach a three semester hour doctoral level course on Thanatology, and a good third of the class time was spent on suicidal ideation and suicide itself. When somebody is bent on suicide, if they don't have one means, they will use another. You cannot stop a determined suicidal person.

    Suicide itself is not predicated on means of doing it. Suicide is the result of the congruence of four key factors: depression, impaired self esteem, anger/hostility, and feeling there is no other way to escape but death.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:17:29 AM PDT

    •  Correct (7+ / 0-)
      " ...just because there seems to be a correlation does not mean there is a correlation."
      This is correct in general.  But in the case of the relationship between gun sales and gun suicides, we have proven that a correlation indeed exists, and that proof is presented in the diary above.  You can see the size of the correlation, the direction of the correlation, and the probability value that the correlation is the result of random chance variation (which in the case of the data presented above is very, very small).

      If you believe I have erred in the data presented, the analysis done, or in making conclusions from the findings, please tell me what errors you find, and I will be happy to discuss them with you.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:39:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  and of suicides, what percent are.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes, wader, Loge, earlybird

      "bent on" suicide, determined etc.  Is there any point at all in treating the suicidal, since they will just kill themselves anyway?  

      ...the biggest fallacy is that suicides are typically long-planned deeds. While this can be true—people who attempt suicide often face a cascade of problems—empirical evidence suggests that they act in a moment of brief but heightened vulnerability.
      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/...

      In cultures without firearms, reducing access to the common means of suicide (pesticides in Sri Lanka and gas ovens and CO in Great Britain) reduces the suicide rate.  Reducing bridge access lowers suicides from jumping from heights.  Means matters, and reducing means, reduces suicide.

      The public health approach doesn't guarantee all suicides will be prevented.  But reducing these needless deaths, especially of impulsive young people.  It is sufficient to begin to make progress on these issues.

      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/...

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:44:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the PHEPC fallacy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheFern

      would be if the diarist says that gun sales caused the increase in gun suicides, or total suicides, which it does not.  

      Now there may be other problems with the studies described -- not all gun sales are reflected in the NICS database, we don't know that the people buying guns are the people committing suicide, etc., but it's not a problem with pure logic.  Maybe it has something to do with statistical significance, but that's not what you say.   There's a difference with confusing correlation and causation and correlation with correlation.  Either way, it's an argument about what use we want to make of the data.

      Part II of your argument from high atop the mountaintop falls apart when you realize not every person who ultimately kills themselves is so determined.  The insight that a gun is more impulsive seems intuitively right, as it would be for gun homicides,  but worthy of more study.  That's not saying the diarist's case isn't proven, but that it's unprovable because of the nature of suicide.  That, prejudging the empirical data, is the logical fallacy, since it uses an ontological claim to contradict an empirical proposition.  

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:54:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Diarist Actually Does Say that (0+ / 0-)
        Intuitively, it makes sense that increasing guns sales causes more gun suicides.
        ...in a comment above, though not in the diary itself.
        •  Yes, I said that (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TooFolkGR, Loge, earlybird, Tim DeLaney

          You are correct that I did say in a comment "Intuitively, it makes sense that increasing guns sales causes more gun suicides."

          However, I want to draw a distinction between things we may suspect (increasing gun sales causes more gun suicides) and things we can empirically prove (there exists a strong positive correlation between gun sales and gun suicides).

          I claim that I can prove there exists a strong positive correlation of gun sales with gun suicides - I have done so in the above diary and I have even provided the raw data table so you can check my math and verify my proof.

          I do NOT claim that I can prove gun sales causes more gun suicides.  I do claim that you and I can appreciate a logical connection between rising gun sales and rising gun suicides.  On seeing that connection, I think that most people would then suspect that rising gun sales may play a causative role in gun suicides.  With the data presented above, we cannot prove that, but we do suspect it to be true.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 11:16:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  yeah, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TooFolkGR

          i wasn't saying the diarist did or didn't.  I was criticizing the assumption that suicidal people are going to kill themselves no matter what, not one paragraph after a pedantic lecture about the nature of proof.  There are too many variables to conclude that more gun sales cause more gun suicides, but it's not an idea that can be dismissed out of hand.  And part of what distinguishes causation from correlation, though, is the ability to turn the data points into a cogent narrative, and differences between gun suicides and other kinds helps do that.  My earlier reply used too many pronouns so i can see how it wasn't 100% clear, but I think the diary did show correlation between the two, and I think it's not completely fallacious because the two things being correlated makes sense.  

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 11:29:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There is a notable difference in saying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tim DeLaney

          Logically, it is clear...

          Logically, we can show...

          Intuitively, it makes sense...

          Scientists learn to examine everything that seems to make sense intuitively and construct testable hypotheses, in order to examine ALL assumptions and find confounding variables.

          When I read that sentence

          Intuitively, it makes sense that increasing guns sales causes more gun suicides.
          I took it's meaning to be, in the context of this diary especially, - It might seem to make sense that A causes B, but that could just be be our "common sense" leading us astray.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 12:51:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Here's some statistics and logic. Gas ovens in (7+ / 0-)

      England. Gas ovens were the method of choice for suicide, painless and effective. When the gas became non-lethal, suicide went down 30% and stayed there.

      NPR investigation

      Anderson points to another example where simply making a change in people's access to instruments of suicide dramatically lowered the suicide rate. In England, death by asphyxiation from breathing oven fumes had accounted for roughly half of all suicides up until the 1970s, when Britain began converting ovens from coal gas, which contains lots of carbon monoxide, to natural gas, which has almost none. During that time, suicides plummeted roughly 30 percent — and the numbers haven't changed since.

      Only gun owners can control their guns and they say oopsie way too much. I lost it, I forgot it, it just went off. Support Gun Kill Speed Limits and Gun Ownership Speed Limits.

      by 88kathy on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:03:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Where would you send an undergraduate who (0+ / 0-)

      came to you for guidance about their choice of grad school?

      Suppose they are trying to choose between a future in criminal justice or public health, and the common element is violence prevention, which programs have the best offerings, and which experts would you suggest they read to inform their decision?

      Which schools?
      Who would you recommend as possible thesis advisor?

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:07:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You might gain insight.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheFern, wader, Loge, LilithGardener

      into more recent thinking on suicide by reading this  really great article from the New York Times on a suicide researcher Dr. Nock. http://www.nytimes.com/...

      He won a MacArthur genius award in 2011 and is trying to collect data rather than relying on theory, like so much earlier work.  He reports that most suicide attempt survivors are glad they didn't succeed.  So reducing ready access to lethal weapons is predicted to reduce suicide rate.  

      It is a testable hypothesis, not just some spurious correlation.  Predictions can be made and measured.  Interesting how few government studies are funding this research.  That is why it is important for physicians to advise their patients to remove firearms from homes when someone is at risk of suicide.

      13. The public does not understand the importance of method availability.

      Over 2,700 respondents to a national random-digit-dial telephone survey were asked to estimate how many of the more than 1,000 people who had jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge would have gone on to commit suicide some other way if an effective suicide barrier had been installed.  Over 1/3 of respondents estimated that none of the suicides could have been prevented.  Respondents most likely to believe that no one could have been saved were cigarette smokers and gun owners.

      Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Belief in the inevitability of suicide: Results from a national survey. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. 2006; 36:1-11.

      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/...

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:08:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Percent gun suicide has been known to be the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Otteray Scribe, Kentucky Kid

    best proxy for percent household gun ownership for a long time. So you've said nothing new.

    What you can not show is that total suicide rates correlate with gun ownership rates - because they don't. Gun availability does influence the choice of method of suicide, but it does not influence total rate.

    And unless you believe that "dead by gun" is categorically different than "dead by other method", identifying once again what people like Kleck have been telling us for a decade is pretty specious.

    Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

    by Robobagpiper on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:17:30 AM PDT

    •  Part of the story, not ALL of the story (4+ / 0-)

      The article above tells part of the story.  It does not tell ALL of the story.

      We are preparing a diary that examines gun deaths (homicide and suicide) as a function of gun ownership.  that diary will be presented in the near future.

      It is true that dead by gun is equally tragic as dead by other means.  Death is inevitable and we all die at some point.  I suggest that the vast majority of deaths by suicide - including suicide by gun - are needless and preventable deaths, and that is very different from dying of old age, incapacitating stroke, or a failing heart.  

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:44:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mental illness rate.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Marti, LilithGardener
      10. Gun owners are not more suicidal than non-owners

      We analyzed data from the Second Injury Control and Risk Survey, a 2001-2003 representative telephone survey of U.S. households. Of over 9,000 respondents, 7% reported past-year suicidal thoughts, and 21% of these had a plan.  Respondents with firearms in the home were no more likely to report suicidal thoughts, plans or attempts, but if they had a suicidal plan, it was much more likely to involve firearms.  The higher rates of suicide among gun owners and their families cannot be explained by higher rates of suicidal behavior, but can be explained by easy access to a gun.

      Betz, Marian E; Barber, Catherine; Miller, Matthew. Suicidal behavior and firearm access: results from the second injury control and risk survey (ICARIS-2). Suicide and Life Threatening Behaviors 2011; 41:384-91.

      So personally choosing not to own a firearm or have one in a household with children and teens would influence the rate of suicide and firearms accidents.  It won't prevent them completely, but should reduce them.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:57:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Presence of guns do increase the rate of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kasoru, 43north

        gunshot accidents, only because the former is a necessary precondition to the latter - though many such accidents are hunting-related, and not relevant to household risk, and furthermore, the per capita rate of fatal gun accidents has fallen by about a factor of 7 in the last 50 years, so the accident risk is minuscule, as risks go, GunFail's lie-by-anecdote notwithstanding.

        The presumption that gun ownership rates influence total suicide rates operates on the presumption that guns make people commit suicide - that this inanimate object has agency.

        It's not true. For a variety of reasons, when guns are available, serious suicide attempters are more likely to choose them over alternative but equally-lethal methods - but there's no evidence that they are more likely overall to commit the act simply because they have access to one.

        Your cite suggests another issue that controllers need to address - reverse causality. People contemplating suicide may be more inclined to acquire a gun (just as people reacting to higher homicide rates where they live). In this instance, the plan to commit suicide is the cause of gun ownership, and not vice-versa.

        Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

        by Robobagpiper on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:43:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is unnecessary: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener, WakeUpNeo, coquiero
          GunFail's lie-by-anecdote
          David Waldman, the author, never claims that the GunFail series is anything more than a chronicle of historical events. To call such a chronicle "lie-by-anecdote" is entirely uncalled for when each and every incident he reports is supported by the public record. His reports are true.

          I think you owe this front page author an apology.  

          Republicans proved in October that they are UNFIT TO GOVERN. Don't let the voter forget it. (-7.25, -6.21)

          by Tim DeLaney on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 03:59:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Wah. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener, WakeUpNeo, coquiero

          Someone read me the news. I haz a mad.

          But no, very few of the accidents I find are hunting-related. Most are people taking their guns out for no other reason than to show them off to friends, to clean them, or to otherwise "handle" them for reasons they'd rather not specify when the cops show up.

          •  I suspect a lot of the incidents involve alcohol (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coquiero

            and that alcohol is a big factor in gun suicides too. I don't have evidence to cite for that yet, (and it's on my research list).

            "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

            by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 05:33:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  IF alcohol/drug use is prevalent (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LilithGardener

              in suicide as a whole, it would be prevalent in gun-as-means suicide as well.

              It's not new grouping, it's a subset of the whole.

              Where it may be a statistically important factor, would be in a shooting followed by suicide.

              Drinking/drugging > gun "play" > shooting (fatal/not fatal) > immediate suicide by the shooter.

              30+ years ago the NRA had posters up at every range:

              Alcohol and Guns Do Not Mix.
              That of course applied to everyone - except cops.
              •  Gun owners are more likely to drink and drive.... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                LilithGardener
                Altogether, 15 474 respondents provided information on firearm exposure. After adjustment for demographics and state of residence, firearm owners were more likely than those with no firearms at home to have ≥5 drinks on one occasion (OR 1.32; 95% CI 1.16 to 1.50), to drink and drive (OR 1.79; 95% CI 1.34 to 2.39) and to have ≥60 drinks per month (OR 1.45; 95% CI 1.14 to 1.83). Heavy alcohol use was most common among firearm owners who also engaged in behaviours such as carrying a firearm for protection against other people and keeping a firearm at home that was both loaded and not locked away. The author concludes that firearm ownership and specific firearm-related behaviours are associated with alcohol-related risk behaviours.
                http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/...

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 06:17:24 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  this... relates to the original post, how? (0+ / 0-)

                  "Look, they're just criminals anyhow..."

                  or did we just shift to a discussion of DWI, and not suicide?

                  The article, appears coloured in synopsis, and I'm disinclined to purchase the entirety for review.
                  Other UC Davis "findings" have been discredited by the FDA in recent commentary.

        •  This comment makes some good points (0+ / 0-)

          False accusations and DBAD are both grounds for Hide Rating your comment.

          Gun rights and gun violence are contentious subjects about which people have strong feelings. This group welcomes a wide range of opinions in our discussions. Some of our readers have lost love ones to gun suicides. Some of us are are military veterans. We (editors) wear asbestos panties and try to give people wide latitude to express their frustration with the status quo.

          If you want to participate in our comment threads please apologize and then don't do it again.

          The reason I'm not Hide Rating this comment is that it has educational value as an example of what not to do, see Daily Kos comment guidelines FAQ.

          YMMV

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 06:08:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  "Choosing" suicide (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          murrayewv

          Keep in mind that "choosing" suicide is not like choosing red or white wine for dinner.

          Keep in mind that people "choosing" suicide may not be thinking very clearly or well - they may have a mental illness (depression or bipolar disorder) that effects their judgement; they may be under significant stressors (divorce, financial loss, legal woes); they may have drug or alcohol problems.  All of these things are common antecedents of suicidal behavior and all of these things effect judgement and reasoning.

          Fortunately, most people who try suicide do not succeed - there are many more suicide attemptors than completed suicides.  But for those people who try to kill themselves with a gun, the success rate is much higher than with any other method.

          The data in the article above does not deal with gun ownership rates or suicide rates.  It deals with a measure of the number of guns sold, and the number of people dead by self-inflicted gunshot wound.  I do not claim that "guns make people commit suicide", I claim that as more guns are sold, we can expect more people to die of gun suicide.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 07:37:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Would you post some of those references please? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Marti

      If something has been the "best proxy for percent household gun ownership for a long time" there must be many possibilities.  

      Where would you direct a beginner student begin to build a foundation?

      It's an important issue. Any good diaries or great comment threads you've contributed to?

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:00:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Would you unpack this comment please? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Marti
      What you can not show is that total suicide rates correlate with gun ownership rates - because they don't. Gun availability does influence the choice of method of suicide, but it does not influence total rate.
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I read that first sentence as a strong declarative statement about something you have studied in detail, right?

      Why would anyone attempt to show that? It sounds idiotic on it's face. Is there a thought or a word missing there, because I don't get it.

      Why would anyone assert gun ownership wold correlate with total suicide rates?

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:12:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Research shows that high gun states actually.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        enhydra lutris

        have higher suicide rates, but the increase is in firearms suicide rather than in suicide overall.  They matched these groups by population.  

        What this means is a slight uptick in non-firearms suicide rate but an almost doubling of the suicide rate overall and all due to firearms suicides.

        Suicides in the 15 U.S. States with the Highest vs. the 6 U.S. States with the Lowest Average Household Gun Ownership (2000-2002)

                                                     High-Gun States        Low-Gun States

        Population                                  39 million                   40 million

        Household Gun Ownership          47%                           15%

        Firearm Suicide                           9,749                      2,606

        Non-Firearm Suicide                   5,060                      5,446

        Total Suicide                             14,809                      8,052

        https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/... Control

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:33:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But isn't that simply reflecting that the majority (0+ / 0-)

          of suicides in almost ALL states are gun suicides.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 12:55:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I realize this is hard to see in a data table.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LilithGardener

            but let me make it clear.  the majority of suicides in the low gun states are NOT from guns, but from other means.  the number from other means is marginally higher, which could also be accounted for with the extra million persons in that sample.  

            So fewer guns means fewer suicides in total, at least in these states.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 06:09:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks will follow up later (0+ / 0-)

              E.g. if I understand your answer, in a like NY, MD, or DC the gun suicide rate is so low that other methods dominate the total suicide rate?

              "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

              by LilithGardener on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 06:18:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes, that is what the data indicate on these... (0+ / 0-)

                low gun owner states.  This should include Hawaii, which has a surprisingly high suicide rate and very low firearms rate.  Cultural values about suicide are different in Asia vs. Europe (although that is a pretty broad brush).

                Good news is that Hawaii has worked hard at youth suicide prevention and lowered their rate through interventions and counseling.  http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/...

                This is one of the frustrating things for me in the firearms suicide discussion.  Suicide can be prevented through interventions and counseling.  My spouse was a mental health counselor and has worked hard with an at risk, PTSD population, to prevent suicide.  If we wouldn't just blow off the role of firearms, we could make a bigger impact.  Heck, just keeping the bullets separately locked up makes an impact.

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 06:49:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  The research on the subject is reviewed by (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kasoru, Otteray Scribe

        Criminologist Gary Kleck in "Point Blank" and updated in Kleck/Kates "Armed".

        The main issue is that those choosing guns for suicides tend to be those most serious about completion (as opposed to less-lethal methods, which tend to be chosen by the "cry for help" attempters).

        What happens is called "displacement". There are at least two alternative suicide methods with similar completion rates to gunshot - specifically, hanging and carbon monoxide poisoning. When guns are less available, those serious about completing the suicide attempt shift their method to hanging or carbon monoxide.

        Which makes perfect sense. Gun controllers' biggest fallacy is to assign agency to the gun. The gun has no agency. It makes people do nothing. People do not commit suicide because they have a gun there to coerce them into doing it. The gun is a tool; and when unavailable, other tools to complete the same task are chosen.

        Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

        by Robobagpiper on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:36:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's a Logical Circle Here That You're Not... (0+ / 0-)

          ...quite connecting.

          I have been told many times.... dozens... hundreds... thousands?  That firearms are a deterrent to crime.

          • If you have a firearm in your house, you're less likely to be robbed.
          • If you carry a firearm on your person, you're less likely to be raped/assaulted.
          • If we eliminated "gun free" zones, there would be less mass killings.

          Let's pretend for a minute that I agree with all three of those statements.  There is only one reason those things could possibly be true. And that reason is as follows:

          "If there's a gun, someone is more likely to get killed."

          Why WOULDN'T a criminal break into a house with a gun?  Why WOULDN'T a rapist go after someone they think is carrying one?
          Why WOULDN'T a mass murderer target a zone where people are likely to be armed?

          Because in ALL of those situations--the mere presence of the firearm means they are more likely to die.  As you say--the gun has no agency of its own... but it's making death more likely for criminals.

          How can you claim explicitly that that property doesn't translate at any level to individuals who are suicidal?

          I am assuming you have own firearms... I dont' know if you have children... can you honestly say that if one of your children was expressing suicidal thoughts, or seemed to be extremely depressed, or was showing some other warning signs of suicide... that you wouldn't take extra precautions with your firearms?

        •  I've never seen an instance of this: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener
          Which makes perfect sense. Gun controllers' biggest fallacy is to assign agency to the gun.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 01:08:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If that's true, then (0+ / 0-)

          you would predict that the low gun suicide rates in places like DC, NY, MD coincide with an increase in suicide by hanging, suicide by CO poisoning, or by some other method.

          Have you ever looked at that simple question?

          The simple question is what is the total suicide rate?

          What is the method that increases in states where guns are less available as a means?

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 01:15:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

          Point Blank - Published in 1991? Suggest a book published more than 20 years ago, is out of print and used copies cost $100?

          Riiiiiight. As a place for beginners to start.

          And the second choice? Here's a link and a review:
          http://www.amazon.com/...

          I skipped the first review for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who, like me falls into the assumption that the suggestions were sincere references.

          Some of the quoted references in the review below sounded so familiar I thought for a moment I might have stumbled into a [....] Daily Kos diary.

          Robo, do criminals commit suicide at higher rates than the general public? Why would anyone look to a criminologist for expertise about suicide?

          Here's the second review on Amazon by a reviwer who also gave the book 5 stars.

          Scholarly Research on Gun Control
          By Acute Observer on March 26, 2005
          Format: Hardcover

          Kleck is a professor at Florida State University, Kates is a partner of a national law firm. The 'Introduction' says they want to present the findings from scholarly journals to contradict the propaganda in the corporate media (p.14). Concealed handgun carry resulted in a reduction of violent crimes (p.17). This fact is censored from the corporate media, even though thousands of lives could be saved. The corporate media portrays gun owners as subhumans, but exempts the Rockefellers, the DuPonts, and the publisher of the 'New York Times' (p.18). This is just bigotry. The availability of guns does not cause murders; murderers mostly have criminal records (p.21). Most murders are drug-related. Gun Prohibition only disarms honest people, just as locks only bar honest people. Historians and scholars say the Second Amendment is an individual right, and this was well recognized prior to World War II.

          Chapter 2 tells of the propaganda campaign that uses various medical groups as pawns. Their studies ignore any facts that don't agree with their desired conclusion (p.33). These Gun Prohibitionists assert falsehoods, fabricate statistics, and falsify references, to forge evidence for their views (p.34). Page 38 gives examples where Dr. Tanay and Kr. Kellermann quote references which disprove their opinions! Such articles show intellectual confusion, ignorance of facts, omission of facts, and emotions that suggest a need for therapy (p.39). Freud said fear and loathing of guns is a sign of sexual immaturity and neuroticism (p.38). A neurosis is a mental disorder characterized by anxieties, compulsions, obsessions, or phobias. The criminological evidence refutes the claims of the medical advocates (p.51).Read more ›

          Nice snark, there, Robo.

          Gotta' give credit where credit is due. That's some PhD level snark.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 03:11:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Are there any peer-reviewed studies by Kleck (0+ / 0-)

          et al. (or any other criminologists) that include or specifically deal with murder-suicide? It's an important topic for readers of Firearms Law and Policy because advocates either more or less gun regulation need to weigh the possible risks with the possible benefits of gun ownership and use.

          There seems to be an increasing number of murder-suicides by people who have no prior criminal record.

          Readers of Firearms Law and Policy may already be familiar with the name Gary Kleck, whose work on defensive gun use [Estimates of defensive gun use of 2.5 million per year] was cited in the Heller (by J. Breyer, minority opinion) and by the CDC report published in June, and covered in detail here, here, and here: Defensive Gun Use (Part IV) - The National Self Defense Survey.

          From HJB's prior diary: Center for Disease Control Addresses Gun Violence

          Gary Kleck, Ph.D.
          Dr. Kleck is a criminologist and the David J. Bordua Professor of Criminology at Florida State University.  He is a highly prolific investigator and researcher, and has published numerous studies on guns and crime.  His research interests are the impact of gun control laws, defensive gun use, the incidence of violence and injuries in crime, and crime deterrence.  

          Dr. Kleck's work on DGU research will be included in a bibliography in Vol II of our  Glossary series (not yet published) - Vol I is here Introducing a new Group: Firearms Law and Policy - Glossary of Resources.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 05:25:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I Won't Go So Far as to Say This (0+ / 0-)
      What you can not show is that total suicide rates correlate with gun ownership rates - because they don't. Gun availability does influence the choice of method of suicide, but it does not influence total rate.
      Someone else pointed out (accurately I think) that a firearm presents both a means and an opportunity for suicide where otherwise the two might not exist.  If someone is in a depressive cycle or a self-loathing rage and doesn't HAVE a gun, they might punch a hole in the wall.  If they HAVE a gun, they might shoot themselves with it.

      Just as one could say if you have two people engaged in a physical confrontation, it is MORE LIKELY that one of them will be killed if either of them has a gun.

      I agree that there is tricky wording in saying that the gun "caused" the suicide (which is the basis of my objection above)... but it is indeed possible that the availability of guns might cause an overall increase in the rate.

      I agree with you further that the studies cited do not demonstrate this.

  •  There is also another little statistic (10+ / 0-)

    Back in 1977, 57% of all households had a gun.

    By 2009, only 31% of all households had a gun (but those households typically had more than one).

    The decrease in gun violence since the 1970's, IMO, is a direct reflection of the fewer households with guns.

    But the NRA doesn't want to look at it that way.

    I've had too many friends blow their brains out.  One friends' suicide note (early 2012) specifically talks about how he saved all this money for a special gun to do himself in with.  So disconnected.  He needed help, not a gun.

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:28:25 AM PDT

    •  most of those were long guns.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber, LilithGardener

      rifles and shotguns used for hunting.  Handguns are much more often used in suicide, and are the firearm increasing in number the most.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:45:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So sorry for your loss (5+ / 0-)

      I am truly sorry for the loss of your friend.  That must have been very difficult for you.  I appreciate that you would share that with us today.

      You are correct that the number of households that keep a gun is decreasing.  Interestingly, the number of guns among American civilians seems to be increasing, suggesting that those who chose to own guns are buying more of them.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:49:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that trend is somewhat reversing.... (0+ / 0-)

        in the huge increase in firearms purchasing since the election of Barack Obama- and somewhat increased spikes with mass murders.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:34:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  To everyone who wants to say pooh pooh . (9+ / 0-)

    If some one you loved was going to try to kill themselves ,
    would you want them to fail or succeed , would you want them to choose a method that is 100% successful or one that was 1% successful ?

    If you had the power to remove guns from the hands of people who were going to use those guns to kill themselves , would you do so ? If not why not ?  

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. H.

    by indycam on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:31:36 AM PDT

    •  Guns and "second-hand smoke" (6+ / 0-)

      In the 1980s and 1990s we learned that cigarettes are not only harmful to those who smoke them, but are also harmful to those who don't smoke them but are nearby when a cigarette is being smoked.

      I suggest we should have the same view of guns: guns are dangerous to those who own and use them, and are also dangerous to who live around guns and are nearby when a gun is being used.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:53:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Simpler (3+ / 0-)

      if someone you loved was going to try to kill themselves, would you want them to have a gun?  No, nor for that matter, straight razors, tylenol bottles, rope, or a garage.

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:56:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  people do remove and hide knives.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jan4insight, LilithGardener

        and limit access to medications in families with depressed individuals.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:36:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And in England they sell Tylenol in small packets (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Loge

        for exactly the reason you touch on.  In addition, it is common for high bridges that are suicide magnets to have tall fences put up along them to make jumping more difficult.

        It has long been observed that even seemingly small impediments to suicide can significantly lower the suicide rate, the thinking being that the harder it is or longer it takes to carry out a suicide, the more chance for a person's rational thinking to overcome their impulsive desire to kill themselves.

        No other suicide approach comes anywhere close to the swiftness and effectiveness of guns.  So statistically, it is less bad (as in less effective) for a person to attempt suicide via some non-gun measure.  If my loved one has swallowed a bunch of tylenols, at least I can whisk them off to the hospital and have a chance of saving them.  The same can't be done for someone who has blown their brains out.

    •  indy, in answer to your question... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber

      ... I would do what I could to help the person.  And tragically, sometimes nothing we can do is enough, leaving us with endless "if only's."

      I hope you are well.  Drop me a note if you'd like to resume our conversation.

  •  What is the Small Arms Survey? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti, Glen The Plumber

    Thanks for another interesting diary HJB. I'm not that familiar with the Small Arms Survey and don't really know who they are or why I should trust their estimates of gun sales.

    Are you going to do a diary breaking down this estimate, how they measure it and what it's limits are?

    Who collects the data? Who compiles and analyzes the data? Who writes the reports?

    I am bookmarking to start here: http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/...

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:40:26 AM PDT

    •  The Small Arms Survey is an NGO (5+ / 0-)

      The Small Arms Survey is a "non-governmental organization" based in Geneva, Switzerland.  

      This is from their Mission Statement (here: http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/...)

      -  To serve as the principal international source of impartial and public information on all aspects of small arms and armed violence.
      -  To act as a resource for governments, policy-makers, researchers, and activists in terms of information and research on small arms and armed violence issues.
      -  To be an independent monitor of national and international governmental and non-governmental policy initiatives on small arms and armed violence.
      -  To be an outlet for policy-relevant research on small arms and armed violence issues.
      -  To act as a forum and clearinghouse for the sharing of information as well as the dissemination of best practice measures and initiatives dealing with small arms and armed violence issues.
      Can you trust the Small Arms Survey and their estimates of guns in America?  Sadly, the gun industry does not want the US government to count the total number of guns in America, and has imposed on congress to write laws to see that no such counting is done.  Consequently, there is very little accurate data on the number of guns in America.  What we have instead are estimates.  For the purpose of this article, I chose to use the estimate of the Small Arms Survey simple because that organization is independent of the gun industry and pro-gun lobbying groups.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:04:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  After WW II... (3+ / 0-)

    In England the stork population and the newborns went up.  So the storks must have brought the babies.

    Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

    by dov12348 on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:06:18 AM PDT

    •  Belongs in a diary about storks and births (5+ / 0-)

      That is a great story that should be part of a diary about births and storks.  But it is not germane to a discussion about guns and gun suicides.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:20:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's about questioning correlation. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Glen The Plumber, LilithGardener

        Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

        by dov12348 on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:28:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  correlation is not causation.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dov12348

        but causation is correlation.  So if there is a cause (increased risk of suicide from firearms ownership) then there must be a correlation- that is the prediction.  

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:38:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Correlation does not equal causation II (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheFern, enhydra lutris

          It is true that correlation does not equal causation.  

          And it is equally true that correlation is meaningful even if it does not prove causation.

          Sadly, for most people coming out of college, the only thing they know about statistics is that correlation does not equal causation.

          Gun enthusiasts are pleased to read that the weight of a bullet is positively correlated with the extent of tissue damage done by that bullet.  On reading such statistics, rare is the gun enthusiast who complains that "correlation does not equal causation".

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 11:07:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It was snark about storks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dov12348

        and a factual comment about correlation and persistence of delusional beliefs.

        "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

        by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 01:08:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Stick to starkly snarking about storks!! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener

          Everyone loves illiteration!!!

          I suggest that if the commenter has an actual criticism about correlation in general, or specifically as used in the study above, then the commenter should tell us what that criticism is, not some made up story about babies and storks.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 01:25:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes it was a rather oblique object lesson (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            88kathy, dov12348

            That correlation does not equal causation, which is an important point to make in its own right.

            Correlation only shows an association.

            We can take it as a well known fact that births increase after WWII. I it is true that storks increased in England after WWII, Occam's razor suggests that we first note that the association could simply be one of coincidence in time. IOW, both storks and babies rose over the same period by two completely independent mechanisms.

            A testable hypothesis about the possibility that rising storks cause increasing births would include finding other countries where storks did not increase after WWII; countries where the stork population remained constant or actually decreased over the same time period.

            And then the null experiment is looking at the birthrates after WWII in countries (or states) where there are no storks at all and noting that birthrates rose in those countries too, thus dispelling the delusion that storks can cause birthrates to rise.

            "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

            by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 01:44:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Sometimes I write very or too economically. (0+ / 0-)

            I leave it to others to infer if no time to elaborate.

            Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

            by dov12348 on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 03:39:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  We called it the baby boom in the USA (0+ / 0-)

      Increased cabbage patches.

      Only gun owners can control their guns and they say oopsie way too much. I lost it, I forgot it, it just went off. Support Gun Kill Speed Limits and Gun Ownership Speed Limits.

      by 88kathy on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 02:48:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually in both cases it was the dick population. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dov12348

      Only gun owners can control their guns and they say oopsie way too much. I lost it, I forgot it, it just went off. Support Gun Kill Speed Limits and Gun Ownership Speed Limits.

      by 88kathy on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 02:49:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, that's a little too on the nose. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        88kathy

        Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

        by dov12348 on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 03:40:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Suicide to guns isn't dick science. But a gun is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dov12348

          the method of choice because the gun is highly effective and lower suffering potential over most other methods. The only thing as lethal and painless is cyanide. Cyanide however lacks the handiness of a gun.

          Only gun owners can control their guns and they say oopsie way too much. I lost it, I forgot it, it just went off. Support Gun Kill Speed Limits and Gun Ownership Speed Limits.

          by 88kathy on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 04:43:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site