A national study on shooting deaths concludes that a suicide or homicide is more likely to occur in a home with a gun than one without.
Although gun ownership is common in the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg area and mental illness is seen in the civilian population and in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, the design of the study makes it hard to apply to any given city, said Eric See, a Methodist University criminologist.
"The study really doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know," said See, chairman of Methodist's Department of Justice Studies, Forensic Science and Cyber Crime. "And what we already know, especially dealing with suicide, is that it oftentimes can be a very impulsive thing. And if someone has made a decision to do this and there is a loaded gun right there, it makes the odds of completing suicide far more likely."
In the study, published Jan. 21 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the authors reviewed data from other studies that analyzed gun-related deaths versus other causes of death.
"Impulsiveness may be a catalyst for using a firearm to commit suicide and may also play a role in firearm-related homicide," wrote the authors from the University of California San Francisco. The homicides "may indicate an impulsive reaction to domestic disputes."
But the Fayetteville area has seen firearms-related suicides and domestic homicides among its military, veteran and civilian populations. In 2012, 28 suicides by firearms were reported in Cumberland County, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. In recent years, the highest number of suicides was 31, in 2008, while the lowest was a year later, with 24.
Guns stored loaded or unlocked were more likely to be used in a suicide than unloaded or locked firearms.