When Gunman and Victim Are the Same ; to Lower Suicide Rates, Focus in U.S. Turns to the Most Lethal Means Used

By Tavernise, Sabrina | International Herald Tribune, February 15, 2013 | Go to article overview

When Gunman and Victim Are the Same ; to Lower Suicide Rates, Focus in U.S. Turns to the Most Lethal Means Used


Tavernise, Sabrina, International Herald Tribune


The gun debate has focused on mass shootings and assault weapons since the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, but far more Americans die by turning guns on themselves.

Craig Reichert found his son's body on a winter morning, lying on the floor as if he were napping with his great-uncle's pistol under his knee.

The emergency services dispatcher told him to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but Mr. Reichert knew it was too late. His son, Kameron, 17, was already cold to the touch.

The U.S. gun debate has focused on mass shootings and assault weapons since the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in December, but far more Americans die by turning guns on themselves. Nearly 20,000 of the 30,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national suicide rate has climbed by 12 percent since 2003, and suicide is the No.3 cause of death for teenagers.

Suicidal acts with guns are fatal in 85 percent of cases, while those with pills are fatal in just 2 percent, according to the Injury Control Research Center of Harvard University. Reducing access to lethal means has worked in other countries. Israel prevents soldiers from taking their guns home on weekend leave, helping reduce their suicide rate by 40 percent.

The U.S. suicide map lights up in states with the highest gun ownership rates. Wyoming, Montana and Alaska, the states with the three highest suicide rates, are also the top gun-owning states, according to the Harvard center. The state-level data are too broad to tell whether the deaths were in homes with guns, but a series of individual-level studies since the early 1990s found a direct link.

Most researchers say the weight of evidence from multiple studies is that guns in the home increase the risk of suicide.

"The literature suggests that having a gun in your home to protect your family is like bringing a time bomb into your house," said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, an epidemiologist who helped establish the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, a government agency. "Instead of protecting you, it's more likely to blow up."

Other researchers note that statistical correlation does not demonstrate cause and effect and say that other factors, like the abuse of alcohol or other drugs, may be more important that the presence of guns. Gary Kleck, a professor of criminology at Florida State University in Tallahassee, contends that gun owners may have qualities that make them more susceptible to suicide. They may be more likely to see the world as a hostile place, or to blame themselves when things go wrong, a dark side of self-reliance.

Health officials in a number of states are trying to persuade families to keep guns away from troubled relatives or to lock them away from teenagers. Some of those officials say the inflamed national gun control debate is making progress harder, because the politics put gun owners on the defensive.

"You just bump up against that glass wall, and barriers go up and the conversations break down," said B.J. Ayers, a suicide prevention specialist in southeast Wyoming.

Seeking to lower death rates, health departments in Missouri, Wyoming and North Carolina are giving out gun locks. In New Hampshire, about half the gun shops put up posters and give out leaflets alerting gun owners to the warning signs for suicide and suggesting ways to keep guns safe. A coalition of firearm dealers in Maryland is now planning a similar program.

"This is an issue whose time has come," said Keith Hotle, state suicide prevention team leader for Wyoming, the state with the highest suicide rate. A state advisory council recently bumped firearms safety to the top priority in a new report to the governor on suicide prevention. But he cautioned that in Wyoming, where guns are like cars -- just about everybody has one -- direct arguments against them simply will not work. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

When Gunman and Victim Are the Same ; to Lower Suicide Rates, Focus in U.S. Turns to the Most Lethal Means Used
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.