“The Key to Reducing Suicide Rates”

Article in the LA Times:

Op-Ed: The key to reducing suicide rates? It’s definitely not lowering taxes

Some takeaways:

  • States with higher taxation were also noted to have lower suicide rates than states with lower taxation
  • This turned out to be related to the finding that states with higher taxation also had lower rates of gun ownership, and vice versa
  • Suicide rates are significantly higher in states with higher gun ownership, and this is even more so for teen suicides
  • Some might argue that if guns are not available, other non-firearm methods would be used instead by the suicidal. However, rates of non-firearm suicide were not found to be higher in states with lower gun ownership.
  • “When a gun is more readily available, there is a greater likelihood that it will be used to commit suicide. Other studies have shown that many suicide attempts are impulsive acts. That, in turn, suggests that if a gun is more accessible, it will be easier to act on impulse.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to firearms, legislation is necessary to (attempt to) address rates of suicide by firearm, through lowering rates of gun ownership—i.e., it seems unlikely that self-motivated methods of firearm safety or limitation will be effective.

What I mean is that most people who own firearms likely feel that it’s others who are at risk for suicide by firearm, not themselves. But, the very fact of firearm ownership puts them at risk when personal or situational crises and hardships occur—and these occur in all of our lives, and we are often at the mercy of our own (often ineffective) coping skills.

The cruicial factor for a person who is suicidal possibly becoming a person who is non-suicidal is time—time for crises to be processed, for help to be found, for treatments to work, for the moment to pass, for hope to seep in.

And while time and adequate support may allow us to make it through difficult passages in our lives, death by suicide, of course, puts an end to all.

I’m not sure there’s a realistic way to reduce firearm ownership in a way that will make an actual difference, in our current political climate—but that’s a rant for another day.

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