By now, we on the gun rights side are kind of sick of it.
In particular, we’re good and tired of guns being tied to suicides. While few would argue that suicide is anything but a tragedy, it seems far too many people rate suicide as a gun problem, rather than a mental health issue.
Now, with the economy going down the toilet, some are warning that the list of people at risk is growing…but not among the “gun culture,” apparently.
More groups of people in the U.S. are at risk for gun suicide, according to new research from Columbia University Medical Center. These include people with lower incomes, those living with disabilities, and people who are socially isolated.
The Columbia study found that per capita gun suicide rates were highest among men (14 per 100,000), people with military service (21 per 100,000) and disabled individuals (14 per 100,000). But researchers found that other groups were also at risk, including people who were unemployed, separated or divorced — and experiencing social isolation.
Dr. Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, and lead author of the new study, says we already knew from previous research that certain groups were at higher risk for gun suicide: older, white men, people living in rural areas, service members. But Olfson says the study highlights other groups of high-risk people who may not have been traditionally recognized
“Some of these findings sort of connect with what we know about the membership of what might be loosely called ‘gun culture’ — groups that have high rates of gun ownership,” said Olfson. “And therefore it isn’t entirely surprising they are at increased risk for firearm suicide. But there are also some risk factors in here that aren’t [gun culture-related] and that are just more general risk factors for suicide and [we found] those people as well are at increased risk.”
Of course, many of those same groups are also members of the gun culture. We’re not monolithic as a single group of middle-aged white dudes, after all.
However, it’s interesting that now it’s not just about the “gun culture,” suddenly it’s a problem.
The thing is, it’s a problem, and it’s going to be a bigger one going forward. After all, how many of us were locked down for months over the coronavirus?
Well, enough that suicide did more damage in California than COVID-19 did.
Doctors in Northern California say they have seen more deaths from suicide than they’ve seen from the coronavirus during the pandemic.
“The numbers are unprecedented,” Dr. Mike deBoisblanc of John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California, told ABC 7 News about the increase of suicide deaths adding that he’s seen a “year’s worth of suicides” in the last four weeks alone.
DeBoisblanc said he believes it’s time for California officials to end the stay-at-home order and let people back out into their communities.
“Personally, I think it’s time,” he said. “I think, originally, this was put in place to flatten the curve and to make sure hospitals have the resources to take care of COVID patients. We have the current resources to do that, and our other community health is suffering.”
Kacey Hansen, a trauma center nurse at John Muir Medical Center for over 30 years, says she’s not only worried about the increased suicide attempts but also about the hospital’s ability to save as many patients as usual.
“What I have seen recently, I have never seen before,” Hansen said. “I have never seen so much intentional injury.”
It’s important to understand that every action has ramifications. The Law of Unintended Consequences doesn’t care about pandemics.
Now, if the number of lives saved by a lockdown is greater than the lives lost, you can make the case that the lockdown made sense. However, that seems unlikely. After all, the quarantine procedures most of us endured didn’t seem to help places like New York, which leads me to believe they weren’t nearly as effective as some wanted to make them out to be.
Couple that with the impact noted in California, then the wisdom of the lockdown needs to be discussed, especially since the suicides aren’t likely to end after the lockdown is lifted. People have lost businesses, will probably lose homes, and a whole host of other things that can drive them deep into suicidal depression. The true impact of the lockdown won’t be known for years.
But, that impact has to be discussed.
Rather than talking about “gun suicides,” we need to talk about suicides in general. We need to stop trying to make this a partisan thing and examine whether the lockdown was the right call or not. In some places, it may well have been. In others, not so much. I mean, why would California, which had a relatively mild outbreak, require the same protocols New York City did? Sure, the case can be made that California didn’t have a problem because of the lockdown, but those same protocols didn’t seem to help the Big Apple. So did they really help?
Honestly, I can’t definitively say one way or another.
What I can say, though, is that we need to have this conversation when all is said and done. We have to understand how to handle outbreaks in the future and need to understand the ramifications for lockdown-type quarantines as opposed to just quarantining the sick and vulnerable.
But this isn’t about guns and never should have been in the first place.