Gun control keeps suicides down

Michael Bryant says:

Most firearm deaths in Canada are suicides (over 75 per cent). Only 24 per cent are homicides. Suicides in Canada will go up if the Prime Minister isn’t careful about what he repeals.

… Suicides dropped dramatically in Canada thanks to the federal gun registry. Not only do statistics prove as much, it stands to reason that with improved gun safety comes decreased gun fatalities; with fewer tools-of-choice for suicides available, fewer suicides occur. It just makes sense.

… A home where there are firearms is five times more likely to be the scene of a suicide than a home without a gun: Canada Safety Council. The Institut national de sante publique du Québec has assessed that the coming into force of the Firearms Act is associated, on average, with a reduction of 250 suicides (and 50 homicides) each year in Canada. That’s nearly one life saved per day. …

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12 Responses to Gun control keeps suicides down

  1. YourConscience says:

    Oh jesus Laden. Just kill yourself now and be done with it. Stop torturing us.

  2. So, “Conscience,” what you’re saying is that it’s your preference that more people die rather than fewer?

  3. lordshipmayhem says:

    I’m having difficulty comprehending the logic here.

    1) Canada has a long gun registry. (Note: handguns have been very difficult to obtain legally since about 1925, when a rum runner shot a policeman to death.)
    2) In that time, the long guns were registered (at colossal cost, by the way, so it fricken well should have saved some lives).
    3) There have been no reports of a decrease in the purchase or ownership of long guns (rifles).
    4) Somehow (“AND THEN A MIRACLE HAPPENS!”) Canada’s Long Gun registry is resulting in a decrease in suicides by gun.

    It is possible to commit suicide by rifle, but it’s really a pain in the ass – the few I’ve heard of who used this trick usually had to take off a shoe to pull the trigger with a toe or some other such jury-rigging. It’s much easier to do so by handgun, which as I mentioned above is difficult to obtain legally. Illegally, that’s another story. But handguns are not impacted by the Long Gun Registry.

  4. I am not a gun owner and I admit to being quite ignorant of the details of gun ownership regulations. However, mental health and suicide are things that I do pay attention to. I read Michael Bryant’s article and was struck immediately by the lack of references for his numbers. I did a bit of digging myself and I can’t find the numbers to back him up.

    What I did find is that the number of suicides in Canada has remained relatively unchanged since 2004, and that the rates per 100,000 are very similar to those in the US, although the method differ.

    Again, my main concern is the reference to suicides. Lack of access to firearms decreases deliberate self-harm by firearms, but it does not impact the overall rate of suicide. There may be numbers that contradict my statement, and I am open to learning about them, but they aren’t to be found in Bryant’s article.

    There may be many reasons to maintain the long gun registry, but this is not one of them. Misinformation about the causes and preventions of deliberate self-harm does not help in any way.

  5. Greg Laden says:

    Lack of access to firearms decreases deliberate self-harm by firearms, but it does not impact the overall rate of suicide

    That is almost certainly NOT true. Success rates for suicide attempts with firearms vs other methods are vastly different.

  6. itzac says:

    I like the registry for the reason that if you’re going to try to control who can or cannot buy or use guns, it’s really the only way to enforce it. But the mechanism by which a registry would reduce crime or suicide rates eludes me completely.

  7. Greg Laden says:

    following up on 5: A very large percentage of suicide events involve an attempt that is never retried becuase the person get help.

    This is a simple matrix:

    Method: Success/Failure
    Gun:90%/10%
    NotGun:20%/80%

    Now imagine your teenage daughter. Give her those odds. YOU control whether or not she gets to try with a gun vs. whatever else she thinks up.

    Having said that, I’m not making an argument one way or the other about the Canadian registry thing.

  8. Lack of access to firearms decreases deliberate self-harm by firearms, but it does not impact the overall rate of suicide

    That is almost certainly NOT true. Success rates for suicide attempts with firearms vs other methods are vastly different.

    That may be so, but the data I found suggests that the overall rate of suicide is very close in Canada and the US, even though the number of suicides involving guns in Canada is much lower.

    My second link didn’t work. there is a diagram partway down the page. http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.com/2011/02/us-vs-canada-suicide-edition.html
    If your argument is correct, we should expect to see differing overall rates in areas with differing gun control laws. The data seems to suggest otherwise.

    My concern is using gun control as a scapegoat for suicide will not actually help the potentially suicidal.

  9. Greg Laden says:

    That may be so, but the data I found suggests that the overall rate of suicide is very close in Canada and the US, even though the number of suicides involving guns in Canada is much lower.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean a thing. I would expect the rate of suicide attempts to vary quite a bit across cultures, demographics, regions, etc. We know that the suicide rate is higher at northern lattidues. If Canadian successful suicides is equal to the US, it means that they are trying harder an failing more!

    If your argument is correct, we should expect to see differing overall rates in areas with differing gun control laws. The data seems to suggest otherwise.

    Not even a little true. My argument does not include the assertion that all cultures/regions/demographics have a fixed suicide rate.

    My concern is using gun control as a scapegoat for suicide will not actually help the potentially suicidal.

    That makes no sense. Perhaps you could rephrase that so I get what you mean.

  10. My argument does not include the assertion that all cultures/regions/demographics have a fixed suicide rate.

    That is not the issue. I agree that there is a huge difference in suicide rates across cultures. What I see as the issue is Bryant’s assertions without any references. I don’t see any connection between suicide rates and gun culture.

    My concern is using gun control as a scapegoat for suicide will not actually help the potentially suicidal.

    That makes no sense. Perhaps you could rephrase that so I get what you mean.

    The causes of suicide are very complex (I don’t think that’s an issue). Simplified solutions, especially those not backed by data are not helpful. We should be focusing on what we know to be causes and triggers.

    What I am primarily looking for here is something to back up Bryant’s assertions.

    • Greg Laden says:

      If every gun in the US was requried to be under lock and key, and there was 80 or so percent compliance, thousands of lives would be saved . Simple.

      The fact that suicide is complex (and I fully agree that it is) does not mean that if there is one simple thing to do that would in fact substantially reduce the numbers of suicide deaths (in teens mainly) should be avoided.

  11. Dunc says:

    Out of curiosity, what are the rules like over there for the purchase of OTC analgesics with the potential to cause fatal overdoses? Here in the UK rules were introduced in 1998 to reduce pack sizes and limit the amount that could be purchased at one time. Sure, you could just go to the next pharmacy down the road if you really wanted, yet the rates of both overdoses and suicide (by all means) went down immediately. Turns out that availability matters…

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