Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Suicide and guns

uBeR's inspired me to take a look at suicide rates in high gun ownership nations and low gun ownership ones. Here we go, courtesy of Gun Owners of America:

United States: 11.6/100,000
Japan: 16.7/100,000
Denmark: 22.3/100,000

So obviously gun ownership prevents suicide overall, except for the fact that Switzerland has good gun laws and a high suicide rate of 21.4/100,000.

So maybe trying to link firearm ownership with suicide is a fool's errand, as there's obviously a 700 pound gorilla called "culture" and "environment" working a little bit with the statistics. Of course, if the NAS (and perhaps yet uBeR) cannot figure out that the victim of a firearm suicide just might be likely to be the owner of the gun, this may yet escape them as well.


Anonymous said...

Switzerland has one of the highest per capita ownership of firearms in the Western world and have some of the most lax gun laws. It's not surprising to me at all the high rate of suicide in Switzerland, since it's been established there's an increased risk of suicide with firearm ownership.

True enough, Japan's suicide rate is mostly like to the result of its culture that has even become famous for its suicide through various different means that I don't care to go in to. Personally, I'm not familiar with Denmark. The literature on Danish suicides, however, seems to agree with my premise.

But if we agree already culture is an important aspect behind suicide, then it's irrelevant to look to other countries to formulate policies here in the US. Hard statistics show firearms to be the most common method to commit suicide in the US. Further studies show firearm ownership is associated with increased suicide risk in the US. Frankly speaking, the data and literature agrees with me, so I'm not so concerned about who thinks what about the NAS.

Bike Bubba said...

Now explain Denmark and Finland to me, uBeR. Or Sweden, where gun laws are very strict, and suicide rates are every bit as high as they are in Switzerland or (virtually gun-free) Japan.

Reality is that suicide is cultural. Take away the gun, and somebody's going to find poison, or a car crash, or "suicide by cop," or any number of other means to off themselves.

The fact that your source did a nonsensical comparison of firearm suicide to firearm ownership proves that they don't have the first clue about how to look at this.

And yes, that doesn't say very nice things about NAS, peer review, or quite frankly the value of an earned doctorate. That they apparently failed to figure out that nobody was going to loan his buddy a gun to kill himself speaks volumes about them, and little of it printable.