Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NO, IT CAN'T POSSIBLY BE THE GUNS

In some countries where U.S. soldiers are posted, there are significant restrictions on their ability to keep weapons in off-base housing -- and surprise: in those countries, the soldiers have much lower rates of suicide:
Even as the Army recorded its worst year in decades for soldiers killing themselves -- with 323 deaths in 2012 -- there were places in the service where suicides are rare....

American troops anywhere in the world are heavily restricted on registration and storage of personal firearms while living on U.S. military bases. But that uniformity ends when the issue is off-base housing.

Troops overseas must abide by the restrictions of host nations, according to military policy. Accordingly, U.S. soldiers in South Korea, Germany, Italy and elsewhere are virtually without access to personal firearms....

Last year there were three Army suicides among the 25,000 soldiers posted in Germany, one among 19,200 in South Korea and none in Italy where 3,900 soldiers are based.

Meanwhile, U.S. posts often see double-digit suicides each year. There were a dozen among the 30,000 GIs at Fort Campbell, Ky., last year; 17 at Fort Hood, Texas, which has 46,500 soldiers; and 10 among the 20,000 GIs at Fort Stewart, Ga., according to Army statistics....
It's not just U.S. soldiers who commit suicide less often when firearms in the home are restricted:
In Israel, which has tough restrictions on personal firearms, the Israeli Defense Force changed policy in 2006, prohibiting troops from taking their service weapons home on weekends. Suicides dropped 45%, according to a 2010 study.
Some information on this subject is about to be released in a Defense Department study:
A soon-to-be published study by the Pentagon's National Center for Telehealth and Technology asserts there is a gun culture among those who volunteer to serve and acknowledges the difficulty of restricting personal firearms, despite evidence that it could reduce suicides.
The reaction of the gun culture and its agents in Congress will probably be to ban the federal government from conducting any more studies of this kind.

This comes from a sidebar story in USA Today; the main story, on suicide, notes that method plays a major role in whether people attempting suicide actually succeed:
While guns are involved in just 5.6% of suicide attempts, they account for 55% of suicide fatalities. That's because 85% of suicide attempts involving guns result in death, making firearms the leading method of suicide in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In comparison, taking pills results in death in 2% of cases....
But don't tell Wayne LaPierre:
The National Rifle Association has said guns don't play a major role in suicide, arguing that suicidal people will always find a way to kill themselves.
Even though he and his pals are wrong:
The facts don't bear that out, says Catherine Barber, who directs the Means Matter Campaign at the Harvard School of Public Health's Injury Control Research Center....

A 2005 study found that, among people who had survived a suicide attempt, one in four deliberated for less than five minutes. Nine in 10 people who survive a suicide attempt don't later die of suicide, according to the Harvard center....

Many studies show that reducing access to lethal methods dramatically lowers the rate of suicide, Barber says.

For example, suicide rates fell in the United Kingdom after that country eliminated carbon monoxide from home cooking gas, which had been the most common form of suicide in the 1950s. A 2002 study estimates that, over a 10-year period, that change saved up to 7,000 lives.
There was also a big drop in suicides and overdoses in the U.K. after it was no longer possible to buy paracetamol (acetaminophen) in any packaging except blister packs.

So, um, separate depressed people from guns, which are an easy way for them to kill themselves? We'll never do that in America, will we? The gunners will raise holy hell. Because they care about guns and guns only -- they don't care about saving lives.

8 comments:

PurpleGirl said...

A young woman I knew decided to suicide; she decide to throw herself out of a window. She lived with her parents in an apartment on the Third floor. She didn't die, she survived. Instead she sustained a host of severe injuries including brain trauma, broken bones, and internal bleeding. She was permanently disabled. Her daughter was taken from her custody and legally given to her mother to raise. (She lived with her patents so she continued to see her daughter but Children's Services didn't think she could raise the child.)

Yes, she could and did use another way -- not a gun -- to kill herself but it was not a successful action.

Victor said...

But, but, but, Steve...

What are American patriots to do when the Evil Gubmint finally comes for them, and after first defending themselves with their gun, they don't have a way to deprive President Obama of the pleasure of locking them away in some internment camp forever, by finally shooting themselves in the head with it, as a final "FECK YOU!" to Liberals?

Overclock speedy said...

I'm actually not going to support restrictions on peoples abilities to end their own lives. If someone wants to, they should be able to do so in a time and manner of their own choosing. We already deny people assisted suicide, and many of the manners people choose without a gun are far more horrific and tragic.

Frankly I think interfering in a personal decision of that magnitude is horrific beyond just about anything else. I don't support a death penalty for much the same reason in just about all cases. It's not the sort of thing I think the state or society has any business messing around in.

Steve M. said...

I think you'd find that these are two different populations -- I suspect that people with horrible diseases who want to control the end-of-life process aren't the ones shooting themselves. A lot of the latter are people working through depression, many of whom will be grateful to be alive if they get past the lowest moment. That's the point of the stat I quoted about suicide-attempt survivors not subsequently dying in another suicide attempt -- lots of people try and fail, then find themselves wanting to live. I think these are mostly people who are not facing the end of life otherwise.

Overclock speedy said...

Even if they aren't who are you to say? If I want to end my life I'd say I should be the one to choose how to do it and nobody else should have any input into it. People choose to end their lives for all sorts of reasons.

Many of the people who try and fail do so in horrific and extremely painful manners, they shouldn't have to go for it.

Steve M. said...

Sorry, you're libertarian-absolutist on this. I'm not.

Examinator said...

Overclock Speedy.
Sorry, but your argument is based on emotion/belief/ideology not facts.
Consider the facts that 1 in 5 people will suffer a major depressive incident in their life.
Of that those who do 2 will attempt suicide.... Do the math that is a lot of people they are not represented in the reported suicide deaths...
Clearly most attempts survive.
As a matter of fact suicide attempts are often an inarticulated cry for help.
Likewise many go on once the trigger crisis has passed.
BTW we as individuals simply DON'T know if we are vulnerable it is all in the circumstances and how that effects the individual. We can't know with certainty what would or wouldn't be a trigger for us.

As an example: I know of a case where a woman lost both her children and husband in a tragic accident. She survived and later remarried, even had another child. She and hubby 2 ran a successful medical practice but she attempted suicide when her cat died.
One is unwise to simply ignore the context which include individual sensitivities.

Examinator said...

Eratum
Should read
Of that those who do 2 IN 11 will attempt suicide.... Do the math that is a lot of people they are not represented in the.....