Suicides, guns, and the inability of some to see the problem

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Many of us have been impacted by suicide. We’ve lost friends or family to this terrible thing, and I can’t even imagine what it’s like to lose close family to such a thing.


However, one thing that truly bugs me is when people use such an awful tragedy to want to restrict guns in some way.

Never mind that suicide has been a thing since time immemorial. Oh no, the problem really is guns, and couldn’t possibly be anything else.

That’s the takeaway in this piece about a gun control advocate who blames firearms for her brother’s suicide.

Adri­ana Pentz thinks about and talks about her brother Luc a lot—not just be­cause Luc passed away, far too early at age 30, not just be­cause he com­mit­ted sui­cide, but also be­cause he killed him­self with his own gun.

Luc’s death on May 23, 2017 in the woods near his home in Con­necti­cut has haunted Adri­ana since, but she has tried to turn the pain into some­thing pos­i­tive by speak­ing out about gun vi­o­lence and sui­cide pre­ven­tion.

Now, I have no issue with anyone speaking out about anything they want.

Yet I also think some people make connections that aren’t exactly warranted. For Pentz, it’s somehow linking “gun violence” and her brother’s suicide.

While I have no doubts it was awful for her and her family, the truth is that the two aren’t as related as gun control advocates want us to believe.

And things get worse from there.

Adri­ana knew Luc had psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues, but it was only a year be­fore his death that she dis­cov­ered that he fre­quently car­ried a gun. “The first time I found out about it, we were go­ing to my daugh­ter’s dance recital.” The fam­ily gath­ered in the park­ing lot and were greet­ing each other. “When I hugged my brother, I felt some­thing hard up against my rib cage.” Luc con­firmed that it was a gun.

“I was shocked. We were lit­er­ally go­ing into a chil­dren’s dance recital,” she said. Later, at her son’s third birth­day, when she went to move Luc’s blazer from a table to make room for cup­cakes, she again felt a hard weight. “When I con­fronted him about it, his an­swer to me was that he car­ried it for safety rea­sons, that he owned it legally. It was scary to me.”  Adri­ana and her sib­lings urged Luc to seek coun­sel­ing, but he was not re­cep­tive. Thus, when he could not be reached for a few days that Au­gust, they con­tacted the po­lice near his home. A search of his house turned up an empty gun case as well as an­other weapon. Not long af­ter­wards, they found his body.


First, I fail to see why going to a children’s dance recital is any different than going anywhere else. Violent crime follows people. Even if the place you’re going is perfectly safe–no place is, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it is–what about the trip to and from? Carjackings happen, after all. Did he go to eat before the recital?

See, Pentz is trying to use this anecdote to present her brother as unstable, perhaps a bit paranoid. However, she never really makes that case. Why? Because many people who carry a firearm for personal safety will do so wherever they go, so long as they can do it lawfully–and many others will do it even then so long as they won’t get caught.

The way things are presented here, the primary evidence that Luc was unwell was because he had a gun.

Now, since he committed suicide, it’s clear there was more going on. I won’t argue that. I just have to say the case isn’t being made here with how it’s recounted.

But there are a few things the story isn’t saying.

For one thing, suicides aren’t exclusively a gun thing. Nearly half of all suicides involve some other method for claiming one’s own life. What’s more, many of them are almost as effective as a firearm with regard to survivability.

Yet the decision to take one’s own life doesn’t come about because you happen to have a firearm. Thinking that it does is a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc, or “after this, therefore because of this.” In other words, he bought a gun and later committed suicide, so his suicide was because he had a gun.


Take the gun out of the equation and, at best, you still have a mentally unwell person who wants to take his own life and can find the means to do so.

Guns aren’t the reason for suicide.

Until we come to realize that and stop trying to use them as an excuse to infringe on the rights of others, we’re never going to really deal with the underlying issues.

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