Suicides are often used in the debate over firearms. We know that roughly two-thirds of all “gun deaths” are people who take their own life with a firearm, and gun control advocates often tell us that new regulations could reduce that number.
To be sure, guns are probably the single most commonly used tool people can use to take their own life, and that means we should all work very hard to try and combat this problem.
However, some recent numbers do help to frame some of this as well.
Q: How often are guns involved as a cause of death in the United States?
A: Suicide was the 10th overall leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, the first time it has been in the top 10; over half these involved guns (24,292 of the 45,979 suicides). The homicide rate rose from 6 per 100,000 in 2019 to almost 8 per 100,000 in 2020, a 30 percent increase and in the top 30 overall causes of death. Guns were involved in over three-quarters of these murders (19,384 of the 24,576 homicides). Doing the math, we see that between suicides and homicides, guns were the leading cause of someone’s death behind only (in order, starting with the most common) heart disease, cancer, COVID-19, accidents, stroke, chronic breathing diseases (such as COPD), Alzheimer’s, diabetes, flu/pneumonia, all cause suicides and kidney disease.
[Emphasis in the answer is mine.]
Half of all suicides involve guns. Fascinating.
Of course, to some, this just proves guns are a huge issue, but they’re wrong.
What we see here is that nearly half of all suicides involve something other than a firearm. This goes to what we’ve long argued when the subject of guns and suicides comes up–that if people cannot get a firearm, they’ll use something else to take their life.
While guns are the most effective means by which one can take their own life, there are others that are nearly as effective. Restrictions to guns will likely push the suicidal toward seeking out one of those other methods.
And nearly half of all people successfully do just that.
With suicides, the truth is that you need to focus on the causes of the action, not the methods used. Mental illness is stigmatized in our society. Men, who are more likely to take their own life than women, are still ostracized by many if they show any signs of weakness or vulnerability.
Don’t believe me? Remember Will Smith becoming a meme for being upset that his wife slept with other men? Do you think that only happens to celebrities?
No, it happens across the board and that is a much bigger problem than whether someone who is depressed might be able to get their hands on a firearm.
Take care of the cause and the rest works itself out, like in so many other parts of life.
Plus, not only with it reduce the number of firearm-related suicides, but it’ll take a big chunk out of the other half of suicides as well. It’ll be a win across the board.