Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Should We Not Count the Suicides?

The Daily Beast published an article about how the gun control lobby is mobilizing its efforts in demanding change from President Obama. They said this:
During Obama’s second term, “48,000 Americans will be killed by guns,” says John Feinblatt, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chief police adviser and chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, citing a statistic based on research from the Center for Disease Control. “The American people deserve to know how they will be kept safe, and that’s the job of the president as he enters his new term.”
The number will actually be more like 130,000. There's no reason not to count suicides.  Here's why.

The terrible lethality of a firearm makes a suicide attempt more likely to succeed.  The same can be said of attempted murder, when a gun is used, it succeeds more often.  Therefore, if our qualifying factor is the gun, suicides and murders can legitimately be counted together. The larger number represents ALL the victims of gun violence.

Suicides, in fact, should be counted first. The use of a gun plays a more important role in the act of suicide than it does in murder.  A person who attempts suicide and fails is more likely to get beyond their temporary depression or whatever the trigger was than the fellow intent on murder. It's with homicide that alternate means are more often used successfully.

Of course no one knows for sure what the percentages would be, but I think it's safe to say that homicidal people who do not have access to guns do not always commit murder.  And suicidal people who do not have access to guns do not always commit suicide.

This is why restricting access to unfit and dangerous and suicidal people is so important.   And this is why counting suicides and homicides together is the  right thing to do when discussing the cost of gun violence.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. Suicide rates per hundred thousand:

    Japan: 23.8
    People's Republic of China: 22.23
    South Africa: 15.4
    United States: 12.0
    Ireland: 11.8
    Canada: 11.3

    Note here that all of the countries named have the kind of gun control that your side wants, except the United States. Note also that we can't merely dismiss the Asian rates as being the result of cultural factors. China and Japan have much higher rates, yes, but America fits in with Ireland and Canada, two nations with similar cultures to us. What we see here is that gun control does not change suicide rates.

    Suicide is a personal decision, while homicide is making a decision about someone else. That's the fundamental difference. Your side hates choice, except when it comes to abortion. It's a woman's body and her decision until she makes a choice that you don't approve of. Then you feel entitled to decide for her.

    This shows that E.N.'s point of view is the core philosophy for control freaks of all kinds. In that way of thinking, human beings are the property of the state, existing to serve the needs of those in power. Allowing people to have choice of any kind reduces their usefulness to the tyrant.

    As someone who refuses to be of any use to tyranny, I oppose your ideology.

    1. Tragically for your cause, freedom is it's own undertaker.

      You are correct in observing that, although the themes and fleeting dogma may bear petty variances, the utopia remains fundamental to the inevitable progression of Humanity.

      You are of use to "tyranny". However the fruit is not quite ripe yet. Give it time, and you will understand.

      While the lion and the gazelle may be enemies, their existence is manifestly codependent.

    2. Been reading Nostradamus lately? That's what you sound like in this comment--it's an improvement on your usual Soviet style, though.

    3. Any mention of Japan in the suicide discussion is bullshit. I've explained the so many times, I refuse to repeat it. The other comparisons are apples to oranges for their own reasons.

      Gun lethality and efficiency, obviously, has an impact on suicide attempts. You're just playing hard to get and it's become too tedious for me.

    4. You've observed that the Japanese culture accepts suicide. The point is that many Japanese people still kill themselves, regardless of the method. You have not addressed the similarity in numbers among the United States, Canada, and Ireland. Those three nations have cultures that are a lot alike. In fact, many people moved from one to another of those three. We share the same major religion. We share the same beliefs about suicide. But Canada's laws on guns are strict, and Ireland's are as repressive as Britain's. And yet, our rates of suicide are about the same.

      In your language, hard to get means that I have facts and logic on my side that you can't answer.

  2. So anything goes as long as a majority of people or their elected representatives support it or justify it? That is pure and simple "might makes right" philosophy. Such a philosophy dishonors human beings.

    No one has any legitimate authority to tell another citizen what property they can own or which tools they can have to defend themselves or their family.

    Our entire system of government is supposed to be in place to protect the rights of citizens -- not subjugate their rights to the whim of government employees, lobbyists, special interest groups, or appointed or elected representatives.

    1. You're nuts. You think private citizens should have the right to own plutonium or the Ebola virus? How about the heavier military weapons, are they OK too?

  3. Sure count them if you want, but why the need to always combine them? Suicide and Murder are two very different problems with very different solutions. The demographics and regional distributions are also nothing alike. Combining those means you can’t patterns. But maybe you are only interested in padding the “gun death” stat to show how people who don’t own guns tend to not use guns to kill themselves…

    Mike: “This is why restricting access to unfit and dangerous and suicidal people is so important.”

    How are you planning on doing this anyway? No gun sales to people who have had issues with depression? Patient/Doctor confidentiality gets in the way of that. As long as you have all those rich doctors buying off politicians and that blowhard Dr. Jeremy Lazarus spouting fear and paranoia at those damn AMA conventions that the guberment wants to take away all your precious “secrets”- you’ll never get anywhere.

    1. TS, you're good at telling us how it can't be done. But, why do you bother if you insist that it shouldn't be done.

      Murder and suicide have one thing in common. Most of them are done with guns. Therefore, and hold on to your hat for this one, gun availability plays a significant role in both.

    2. But Mikeb, did you look at the data that I provided above? The rate of suicide has nothing to do with guns. Japan has strict gun laws. Hardly anyone there has a legal gun. Gun availability has nothing to do with the number of people who kill themselves. All a gun does for a suicidal person is offer another method.

      Before you wriggle and quibble, look at the numbers. If you were right, there'd be a huge difference in nations that have lots of guns and those that don't. Answer that.

    3. You didn't answer why it is better to combine them than to examine them independently. Is there a valid reason?

      And yes, I will continue to point out why things shouldn't be done. I like showing how your ideas go past violating just gun rights. Most everyone doesn't want the government tracking what pills they are taking, or what they say to their psychologist.

    4. "passed" that is. Your ideas don't have a time machine.