Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll

Far more people kill themselves with a firearm each year than are murdered with one. In 2010 in the U.S., 19,392 people committed suicide with guns, compared with 11,078 who were killed by others. Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S.; in 2010, 38,364 people killed themselves. In more than half of these cases, they used firearms.

Access-to-guns-and-risk-of-suicide-chartIndeed, more people in this country kill themselves with guns than with all other intentional means combined, including hanging, poisoning or overdose, jumping, or cutting. Though guns are not the most common method by which people attempt suicide, they are the most lethal. About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm end in death.

Rates of firearm suicides in states with the highest rates of gun ownership are 3.7 times higher for men and 7.9 times higher for women, compared with states with the lowest gun ownership—though the rates of non-firearm suicides are about the same.

“Cut it however you want: In places where exposure to guns is higher, more people die of suicide.”

When widely used lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, as do suicide rates overall.

It’s important that gun owners and non-gun-owners talk to one another. The question can’t be, “What do you think of gun control?” because everybody’s going to be for or against. The question needs to be, “How do we solve the problem of gun suicide?”

via Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll | Magazine Features | Harvard School of Public Health Magazine Features.



More Generous Unemployment Benefits Lead To Lower Suicide Rates

Six months after Congress gave up on providing long-term unemployment benefits to job seekers who have exhausted their state-level unemployment insurance systems, new research shows that less generous unemployment support systems are connected to higher suicide rates.

The solid line in this chart from the paper shows the correlation between the unemployment rate and the annual number of suicide deaths per 100,000 workers in states with high benefit levels. The dotted line shows the correlation in states with low benefit levels.

The solid line in this chart from the paper shows the correlation between the unemployment rate and the annual number of suicide deaths per 100,000 workers in states with high benefit levels. The dotted line shows the correlation in states with low benefit levels.

States that offer higher levels of replacement income for residents who are looking for work but unable to find a job experience significantly lower suicide rates than less generous states, according to a study by two London School of Economics researchers and a University of California San Francisco epidemiologist. Suicide rates have long been known to correlate with economic conditions and the unemployment rate, but the new research finds that higher unemployment insurance payments dull the connection between economic factors and suicide.

The mental health benefits of providing a buffer to out-of-work people provide further evidence that such programs are a net benefit for society rather than a net cost. Unemployment insurance has long been understood to provide more economic benefits than what it costs to administer and pay out, and it ranks among the most efficient forms of economic stimulus that the government has at its disposal.

via More Generous Unemployment Benefits Lead To Lower Suicide Rates.

You Can’t Always See Suicidal Intent

Why do we continue to do such a lousy job in helping stop 30,000+ people from taking their own lives each and every year in the U.S.?

I don’t have the answer.

But I do have one answer — let’s stop treating mental illness like a second-class disease that is mocked, ridiculed, and discriminated against every day in this country.

from: You Can’t Always See Suicidal Intent | World of Psychology.

NIMH · Emergency Department Suicide Screening Tool Accurately Predicts At Risk Youth

Most individuals who die by suicide have visited a health care provider 3 months to 1 year before their death. Typically these patients saw an emergency department ED nurse and physician for some other health concern such as abdominal pain or headaches. These at-risk individuals often go unrecognized by ED staff who either lack the time or training to properly screen patients.

“Many families use the emergency department as their sole contact in the healthcare system,” said Lisa M. Horowitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of a study by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that was published in the December 2012 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. “Most people don’t show up to the emergency department and say ‘I want to kill myself.’ Rather they show up with physical complaints and do not discuss their suicidal thoughts. But studies have shown that if you ask directly, the majority will tell you. Nurses and physicians need to know what questions to ask.”

via NIMH · Emergency Department Suicide Screening Tool Accurately Predicts At Risk Youth.

Soldier suicides outpaced combat deaths in 2012

More soldiers took their own lives than died in combat during 2012, new Department of Defense figures show. The Army’s suicide rate has climbed by 9 percent since the military branch launched its suicide-prevention campaign in 2009.Through November, 177 active-duty soldiers had committed suicide compared to 165 during all of 2011 and 156 in 2010. In all of 2012, 176 soldiers were killed in action — all while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, according to DOD.

English: United States Army Suicide Prevention...Army suicides have increased by at least 54 percent since 2007 when there were 115 — a number the Washington Post then called “an all-time record.” An Army spokesman said Wednesday it is uncertain if 177 marks a new annual high with December numbers still to come, or if suicides have ever outpaced combat deaths in a single year, because the Army has not always tracked suicides.

Some Army families who recently lost members to suicide criticize the branch for failing to aggressively shake a culture in which soldiers believe they’ll be deemed weak and denied promotion if they seek mental health aid. They also blame Army leaders for focusing more heavily on weeding out emotionally troubled soldiers to artificially suppress the branch’s suicide stats versus embracing and helping members who are exhibiting clear signs of trouble.

via The enemy within: Soldier suicides outpaced combat deaths in 2012 – U.S. News.