I was going to blog on this topic Tuesday, I had the data. But I got busy and didn’t have a chance to do it. The New York Times beat me to the punch Thursday with a Page One story on guns and suicide.
In all the debate over gun control following the child-slaughter in Newton, there hasn’t been much talk about the fact that the number of suicides involving guns is nearly double that of homicides involving guns. In 2010, there were 19,392 suicides by firearm, versus 11,078 homicides by firearm, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly all of the suicide deaths would have been avoided without handguns, because those who use a firearm have an 85 percent success rate, compared with a 3 percent overall success rate by other means. Thus, without guns, 19,000 of those 19,392 folks would still be alive.
This very same data was cited on The Times’ story, which had the headline “With Guns, Killer and Victim are Usually Same.”
The story starts out with the tale of Kameron Reichert, 17, who committed suicide using on of his dad’s heirloom guns. The suicide took place in Wyoming, which has the highest suicide rate in the country, according to The Times.The state also has one of the highest levels of gun ownership, the newspaper reported.
Kameron was a good kid, a popular kid who had never been depressed, but he got in a bit of trouble. Inexplicably, in an act far more drastic than his troubles warranted, Kameron killed himself.
The issue The Times raises, and I raise, is if this teen hadn’t had access to his father’s gun, would he be alive today? I think he would. Yet Kameron’s father Craig Reichert is a gun collector who opposes gun control.
Research shows that having a gun in a home increases the risk of suicide, according to The Times.
Some relatives of teens who committed suicide by firearm argue that these troubled kids, even if they didn’t have access to a gun, who have killed themselves by another method. The fact is that while these teens may have tried to commit suicide by another method, the odds are very unlikely that they would have succeeded with another method.
Guns are the most effective suicide method, by far. For example, The Times quoted a Harvard doctor who said that drug overdoses, which make up 80 percent of suicide attempts, account for only 14 percent of fatalities.
None of this seems to have made an impression on Kameron’s gun-collecting dad.
“I will always believe in guns,” Craig Reichert told The Times.