Guns and Suicides

by evanmcmurry

Richard Florida brings ye olde scientific method to bear on the recent surge in suicides and finds that the most readily available, obvious explanation—the economic downturn—doesn’t fly. Break the suicide rate down by state, and the highest increases occur in states with relatively stable economies, while states with harder-hit economies saw no surge in deaths.

What the increases do match is gun ownership. Across the fifty states, deaths by poisoning or suffocation are the same; states with high gun ownership, however, saw increases in suicides:

A Harvard School of Public Health study found gun ownership to be the overriding factor in accounting for state-by-state differences in suicide after controlling for mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and other factors. A website for a Harvard suicide-prevention campaign explains: “The higher suicide rates result from higher firearm suicides; the non-firearm suicide rate is about equal across states.” The Harvard School of Public Health News, which summarized the main findings of the study, notes that “in states where guns were prevalent—as in Wyoming, where 63 percent of households reported owning guns—rates of suicide were higher. The inverse was also true: where gun ownership was less common, suicide rates were also lower.”

This is yet another reminder of how little the “good guy with a gun/bad guy with a gun” pablum being paddled by Wayne LaPierre has to do with anything.