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Suicides and Guns: Maryland Study Debunks itself

Suicides. As shown in the image below, many countries with extreme gun control have higher suicide rates than the United States. When criminologist’s showed that murder rates either dropped or remained the same when guns were more easily accessed, proponents of a disarmed society turned to suicide.

Their studies about suicides “caused” by firearms ownership, tend to be junk science. Consider a recent “study” published only with the American Public Health Association. It was done about suicides in Maryland. Maryland is densely populated, and has extremely strict gun control.  Only 3.5% of the suicides were in rural areas. The numbers are likely correct, but the interpretation leaves much to be desired. From

In particular, doctors need to pay close attention to gun use and mental health for men, the study results suggest.

That’s because 89 percent of the gun-related suicides occurred among men, and because the higher rural suicide rate was only true for men.

Firearm suicide rates were 36 percent higher for rural men than urban men. But rural women were 37 percent less likely to commit suicide than urban women, regardless of the method.

The author of the study draws this mind numbing conclusion, directly in contradiction to the evidence just cited:

 “Access to guns in the home creates a higher risk of suicide for family members whether or not there are known mental health concerns,” Nelson said. “Secure gun storage – locked, preferably in a storage cabinet, and unloaded with ammunition locked up separately – should be routine in gun-owning homes.”

And how is locking up guns and ammunition supposed to prevent suicides, especially by men who preferentially own guns? Another conclusion, likely as valid, is that rural areas with guns prevent women from committing suicide, as the rate of women committing suicide is almost exactly as reduced as the rate of men is increased, in rural areas.

Other possibilities are likely. There are more available women in urban areas. Men with women available are less likely to commit suicide. The obvious conclusion is that more women should be making themselves available in rural areas to keep the suicide rate down. At the same time, the suicide rate for women would be decreased. But that obvious solution is not politically correct. It is much easier to blame inanimate objects such as firearms. Suicide is a complex affair. Countries with lots of guns have a high suicide rate and low suicide rates. Countries with few guns have both high and low suicide rates.  It is the overall suicide rate that maters, not the number of suicides performed with a particular method.

Overall suicide rates in the United States have risen from 11.08 in 1997 to 12.93 in 2014. The number of guns per capita has risen from .97 to 1.21 in the same period. But the percentage of suicides committed with guns decreased from 60% to 49%.

If guns were the cause, you would expect the percent of suicides with guns to rise, not fall.

Many other methods of suicide are available. A search on the Internets confirms this obvious fact. Web sites are available that describe suicide methods in detail.  The idea that suicides can be meaningfully prevented by requiring guns to be locked up is not proven. It seems decidedly counter-intuitive.  Suicides are not capable of turning a key?

In Australia, as suicides with guns have dropped, suicides with other methods have risen, just as expected. Suicide rates are not dependent on the availability of a particular method. In a modern society, many methods are commonly available.

In Australia, the most common method is strangulation/hanging, with suffocation close behind. Suffocation commonly involves a plastic bag.

A common problem with statistical studies is confirmation bias. Authors of studies find what the expect to find in their work. It appears to be the case here. The medical community has been pushing poor “studies” that promote the strict regulation of firearms for decades.

This appears to be another such effort.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch


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