Any time you consider a measure to save lives, one thing you need to try and account for is how many lives may be lost as a result of your plan. For example, if a hundred thousand lives could be saved by passing gun control (hypothetically and for the sake of argument ONLY), is it worth it if a million people die because they couldn’t defend themselves?
Most things are a give and take. You have to balance things because few things are a total good or a total ill. The world is more complex than that.
One thing we’re seeing with the pandemic lockdown, for example, is a potential increase in the number of suicides. According to some researchers, though, the lockdown is only partially to blame. The rest of the blame falls on increased gun sales.
The coronavirus outbreak is producing voluminous sales of firearms—and guns are already the deadliest method of suicide—so as the U.S. suicide rate increases, the current pandemic could serve as a dangerous accelerant for these deaths, researchers said.
“We are mixing into this epidemic the most lethal means for suicide that has ever been invented,” Dr. Eric Fleegler, a professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School and a pediatric emergency physician, told Newsweek.
The pandemic and the economic and social havoc it unleashed in the country can trigger or contribute to mental distress, Fleegler wrote with two other authors in an essay published earlier this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Those factors, combined with “unfettered access” to firearms, they said, could also create a suicide epidemic.
Dr. Fleegler has apparently never tried to purchase a firearm in the state of Massachusetts. After all, the only people who think there is “unfettered access” to firearms are those who have never tried to buy one.
Of course, there are a lot fewer of those right now than there were a couple of months ago.
Now, I’m not saying we’re not going to see a lot more suicides. I think that’s pretty much a given at this point. However, guns aren’t going to contribute to this to any measurable degree.
The problem is that the two-week quarantine we were all looking at has been going on for two months now. Humans are social creatures. They need some degree of interaction with other people. Yes, even introverts.
Without that, when coupled with the lack of vitamin D from staying inside, it can cause rather severe depression. Rather severely depressed people are far more likely to kill themselves. It’s awful, but it’s true.
Yet here’s the thing Fleegler has failed to note. There are more ways to kill yourself than with a gun. There are a plethora of possibilities out there for someone who wants to take their own life. Sure, those who use a gun tend to be more successful, but let’s also remember that other methods tend to fail because people can intervene. They know something is wrong and check and find the person and call for help.
That’s not really an option when we’re barred from going to check on our friends. That means someone who might otherwise survive may well die.
Worse is the fact that some people may well have already committed suicide and are simply undiscovered because no one realizes there’s a problem. I’d be shocked if that’s not the case, truth be told.
None of that, though, has anything to do with guns.
No, guns are simply a convenient boogieman for someone like Fleegler to blame. In this case, though, he’s not even a researcher. He’s spouting an opinion and the folks at Newsweek are conflating that with some actual research about the potential increase in suicides and calling it science. It’s not, and no one is doing these folks any favors by pretending the problem is them having a gun and not the fact that they’re not getting the human interaction they desperately need.