Stop Blaming Guns For Suicides

Nearly two-thirds of all firearm fatalities each year are the result of someone taking their own life. Anti-gunners routinely leave that part out when they’d slinging numbers around because people don’t view suicides the same way they do homicides or accidents. After all, someone commits suicide by making a conscious decision to take their own life. It’s on them and no one else.

And since two-thirds of those firearm-related fatalities are suicides, it’s no wonder that anti-gunners try to obscure the truth.

Unfortunately for them, it becomes easy to debunk their claims by simply pointing this fact out. That’s why there’s now a push not just to acknowledge this, but to blame guns for those suicides.

According to national health statistics, 24,432 Americans used guns to kill themselves in 2018, up from 19,392 in 2010.

People who kill themselves in this way are usually those with ready access to firearms: gun owners and their family members. Gun owners are not more suicidal than people who don’t own guns, but attempts with guns are more likely to be fatal.

Now, nearly a year after the coronavirus pandemic began, unleashing a tide of economic dislocation and despair, experts are bracing for a rise in suicides. Gun sales have risen steadily since March, and as shutdowns aimed at containing the virus have disrupted lives and led to social isolation, studies have shown an increase in anxiety and suicidal ideation.

“So many people are struggling right now,” said Jennifer Stuber, an associate professor of social work who helped found the University of Washington’s Forefront Suicide Prevention center. “The indicators are that a perfect storm is about to hit.”

She noted that people who purchase guns to protect themselves from civil unrest and a possible rise in crime “may actually be incurring more potential risk in terms of harm that can come to their family.”

OK, let’s break down the facts.

First, that 24,432 suicides with a firearm? That accounts for just a tad over half of all suicides in the country. It sounds to me like people are finding plenty of other ways to kill themselves without firearms.

Oh, but that’s an increase since 2010, right? Sure. But overall suicides are also up during that same period.

Further, while firearms may be the most effective means for someone to take their own life, it’s not the only effective means to do so. There are plenty of other ways to claim your own life and be pretty sure you’re going to be successful. While guns might be more effective, we’re talking about a couple of percentage points of different, which is practically statistical noise.

In other words, guns aren’t the problem.

Suicide isn’t a political issue, it’s a mental health one. Just today I read a good friend lamenting a buddy of his from the Marine Corps who claimed his own life. The issue there wasn’t access to firearms, but that so many who serve have ended up broken mentally and emotionally by what they endured.

Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop trying to make this about guns and recognize that tens of thousands of people are still claiming their own lives with things that aren’t firearms and instead focus on solutions that can help everyone.