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April 22, 2007 2:05 PM   Subscribe

An average of 81 people die of gunshot wounds in the US each day. Most of them aren't who you'd expect.
posted by alms (149 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
What was the part that I didn't expect?
posted by found missing at 2:11 PM on April 22, 2007


All the white male suicides? I count 34 out of 81 total or roughly 42% of all gun deaths (according to this graphic).

That's a bit surprising to me.
posted by zhivota at 2:16 PM on April 22, 2007


The arguement from those who are pro-gun: if more people (and states) allowed concealed guns, then a guy with a gun would be less likely to do bad stuff for fear a possible victim might be armed. Thus, had students carried guns in Virginia Tech, so it is argued, perhaps fewer people might have been killed. Note: this is not MY position and I merely post the position here. I do recall, though, that in the army, though we were issued rifles, we were not given live ammo but for special circumstances, ie, rifle range practise and guard duty at a place that had wild dogs. What does the miliary know that pro-gun people seem not to know?
posted by Postroad at 2:17 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


There was an article on The Last Psychiatrist a while ago talking about the high suicide rate among the elderly. It suggested that old people didn't try to shoot themselves more often — they were just more successful, being old and frail.

I wonder if something similar is at work with all the suicides. I imagine if you compare an equal number of attempted homicides and attempted gun suicides, more of the suicides are successful. Point blank range, perfect choice of where to aim, no need to track a moving target or pursue a fleeing one....

I'd be curious to see a similar chart comparing armed assaults with suicide attempts.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:20 PM on April 22, 2007


There are a lot of white males, and guns are a popular way for men to commit suicide. The numbers shouldn't be that big of a surprise.
posted by found missing at 2:20 PM on April 22, 2007


It suggested that old people didn't try to shoot themselves more often

Sorry, that should be "didn't try to kill themselves more often."
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:21 PM on April 22, 2007


Based on the 2005 numbers, an average of 107 people die from car accidents each day.

Cancer kills 1500/day.
posted by Malor at 2:21 PM on April 22, 2007


Thanks for clearing that up, found missing. I'll be sure to adjust my surprise meter accordingly.
posted by zhivota at 2:22 PM on April 22, 2007


And lumping suicide numbers into gun deaths is pushing an agenda.
posted by Malor at 2:23 PM on April 22, 2007


Lots of suicides. I knew there were lots of suicides in general, but I never would have guessed they comprise such a large share of shooting deaths.

What does the miliary know that pro-gun people seem not to know?

I believe it is "Apocalypse Now" that has the disturbing suicide-by-rifle scene, yes? It's been years since I've seen it. Anyway, the reason I bring it up is it seems like the military might have an even higher suicide rate than outside; if so that would be a fine reason to reserve the live ammo, which is what I think you were suggesting. (Anyone know if this is actually the case?)
posted by voltairemodern at 2:25 PM on April 22, 2007


Full Metal Jacket, last discussed here.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on April 22, 2007


Thanks for clearing that up, found missing. I'll be sure to adjust my surprise meter accordingly.

Sorry, point being?

It seem misleading to use absolute numbers without showing various proportions (for example, race proportions, suicide methods proportions).
posted by found missing at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2007


And lumping suicide numbers into gun deaths is pushing an agenda.

I don't understand. I think it states explicitly that all the deaths on the chart are from the discharging of a firearm. It's not representing all suicides, just suicides by gun. Or did I misunderstand that?
posted by zhivota at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2007


What's with all the white male suicides over 40? What do I need to do to avoid this when I get older?
posted by rolypolyman at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2007


This may shock you, but white people have a lot more car accidents than black people.
posted by found missing at 2:32 PM on April 22, 2007


I know that "Full Metal Jacket" starts with a rifle suicide about 10 or so minutes in.
posted by Richard Daly at 2:33 PM on April 22, 2007


And lumping suicide numbers into gun deaths is pushing an agenda.

Bullshit. Concealing deaths of any nature would be pushing an agenda. You're assuming that suicides would be enabled regardless of the availability of a gun, that a suicide is a victimless crime, that suicides are the act of a lucid individual and are carefully planned or in any way in the victim's best interest.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:33 PM on April 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Curses, beaten to the draw.
posted by Richard Daly at 2:34 PM on April 22, 2007


That's a surprising amount of male suicides. I thought it was us females who had the higher suicide rate?
posted by Xere at 2:35 PM on April 22, 2007


My take, again. we were not allowed ammo in the states. When I served a 2nd time, in a war zone, I did have live ammo, of course.

If you discuss gun deaths, no need to bring in car deaths, cancer, or other non-gun deaths. The gun issue is a very full issue of and in itself, one way or the other. As for guns and military suicides, I knew some guys who shot their feet to get out. No gun death there!
posted by Postroad at 2:37 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Insert snarky, angrily left-leaning, politically charged, pro-gun-control comment here.
posted by pkingdesign at 2:38 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Females attempt suicide more often but men are more successful when they attempt it.
posted by clockworkjoe at 2:38 PM on April 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Females might have more attempts, but males like to use guns, and they are a lot more successful at it.
posted by found missing at 2:38 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Suicide is inherently a voluntary act, jimmythefish. A suicide gun death isn't even close to the same kind of crime as a murder gun death. Many, myself included, would argue that it's not a crime at all.
posted by Malor at 2:38 PM on April 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


I seem to recall an article in Time years ago (back when I was in college or grad school, possibly, so early-to-mid '90s) that profiled each of the several hundred people who died by gunshot in America in one week. Seeing the high number of older men who shot themselves to death was indeed pretty surprising (not to mention terribly sad) -- until that point, I'd always assumed (for no good reason) that the stats on gun deaths only involved homicide, not suicide.
posted by scody at 2:41 PM on April 22, 2007



My best friend shot himself at 16. His piano and guitar playing was miraculous. He was a beautiful person, playful and sensitive. I wonder if he would still be here if he hadn't been able to reach for a gun.
posted by bukharin at 2:42 PM on April 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


If these white men had been properly armed they would have been able to defend themselves against themselves.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:42 PM on April 22, 2007 [26 favorites]


If you're looking at gun numbers to assess the danger posed by guns, then I agree with found missing that lumping suicides in the death count is misleading. Imagine claiming that thousands of people fall out of airplanes each year, only later to reveal that 99% of them are parachuters.
posted by iconjack at 2:44 PM on April 22, 2007


Anyways, would it be right to say that those facing physical rather than mental challenges are substantially less likely to commit suicide? It would be great to see an economic breakdown of this data, too.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:46 PM on April 22, 2007


Yeah, except parachuters, you know, have a parachute. They don't die.
posted by zhivota at 2:46 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nearly six black men were murdered.

WTF does that mean? Five black men were murdered?
posted by dobbs at 2:50 PM on April 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


90 people are killed every year in the U.S. by lightning

120 people are killed on average each year by commercial aviation accidents. I believe that's worldwide.

One hundred percent of staticians concur: The greatest cause to loss of human life is death. If we were to pass laws against dying, we'd be set!
posted by ZachsMind at 2:53 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


The founders were not wrong for protecting the right to ball and powder muzzle-loaders, which was synonymous with the arms of the time. But to think that we are hostage to the latest category of "arms" that reinvent the term each generation is a weak philosophical position that requires a faith-based literalist approach.

As a demand-sider who doesn't believe in the NRA-proposed expanded prison system, I propose that we reduce demand for guns by taxing bullets by their type and tendency to be abused, to at least the same amount the federal government pays out for long term care of bullet injuries (which was 8 billion in 1995, according to USNWR). The data would be easy to assess. The founders never conceived of the modern bullet and its ability to make the automatic weapon possible, and we don't need to protect the profit rights of bulletmakers by any legal fundamentalism.
posted by Brian B. at 2:53 PM on April 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh. I got the above impressive (meh) statistics from unitedjustice.com.

More than twenty thousand people per year die due to complications of the flu. So sneezing should be outlawed. No more drinking after somebody else at the public water fountain. Too darn dangerous.

Only five people killed by anthrax! That's pretty good!
posted by ZachsMind at 2:55 PM on April 22, 2007


Nearly six black men were murdered.

WTF does that mean? Five black men were murdered?


It's an average. ie 5.9 black men, on average, were murdered each day. It's just like saying the average family has 2.3 children. It doesn't mean they keep a bloody torso around the house.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:55 PM on April 22, 2007 [7 favorites]


On gender orientation toward suicide, at least in the West, men go predominantly for guns, followed by suffocation / strangulation (hanging) and jumping. Women go for poisions (drug overdoes), suffocation / strangulation (gas), cutting, and jumping. (This to the best of my recollection). There's a lot of speculation over why men prefer guns for suicide, from the obvious Freudian association to the possibility that women wish to leave a prettier corpse.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:56 PM on April 22, 2007


Wow. Over two hundred and seventy-five people die per year from an overdose of statistics. We should probably have someone look into -- ACK! *thud*
posted by ZachsMind at 2:56 PM on April 22, 2007


Malor, the chart is about gun deaths, it doesn't differentiate between criminal and noncriminal shootings.
posted by merelyglib at 2:57 PM on April 22, 2007


I think the take-away is that while Virginia Tech-style rampages are still relatively rare, the availability of firearms dramatically increases the prevalence of spontaneous, ill-conceived decisions to commit suicide. Imagine how many lives are saved every day because a desperate person didn't have a gun handy, and chose instead to hide out under the covers and see what the next day would bring.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 3:05 PM on April 22, 2007


From about.com:

In 2003, 24 soldiers deployed to Kuwait and Iraq committed suicide — a rate of 17.3 per 100,000. The overall Army suicide rate during the same time period was 12.8 per 100,000 soldiers. This compares to the Army's rate of 12.2 for 2003 and 11.9 from 1995 to 2002.

The suicide rate for deployed troops dropped dramatically in 2004. Swanner said no suicides were reported in January or February, and just one soldier took his own life in March. The cause of another fatality has not yet been determined.

Despite the spike, officials said these figures remain lower than the national average of 21.5 per 100,000 for males ages 20 to 34. This is the age bracket for most U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
posted by matty at 3:06 PM on April 22, 2007


Brian B., you say:

The founders were not wrong for protecting the right to ball and powder muzzle-loaders, which was synonymous with the arms of the time.

Do you apply this theory of constitutional interpretation across the board, to all topics of interest to progressives?
posted by jayder at 3:07 PM on April 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's just like saying the average family has 2.3 children. It doesn't mean they keep a bloody torso around the house.

That would be an above-average family: at least one child is a head of the rest.
posted by hal9k at 3:08 PM on April 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


A suicide gun death isn't even close to the same kind of crime as a murder gun death. Many, myself included, would argue that it's not a crime at all.
posted by Malor at 2:38 PM on April 22 [+]
[!]


Who mentioned crimes or murders? Ah, you did!

The article is about gun-related deaths. Regarding the suicides:

Are they gun-related? Yes
Are they deaths? Yes
posted by vacapinta at 3:09 PM on April 22, 2007




More than twenty thousand people per year die due to complications of the flu. So sneezing should be outlawed.

Actually, you just made an argument for banning guns, because they would ban the flu if they could.
posted by Brian B. at 3:09 PM on April 22, 2007


Imagine how many lives are saved every day because a desperate person didn't have a gun handy, and chose instead to hide out under the covers and see what the next day would bring.

If so, you'd probably find that a country like Japan with little gun availability would have a very low suicide rate compared with the US, where gun availability is high. Right?
posted by found missing at 3:10 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


jayder, please give an example.
posted by Brian B. at 3:12 PM on April 22, 2007


Well, there are a lot of depressed elderly people who do want to kill themselves, whether they make the effort to do it or not. Getting old sucks to begin with but when you have to decide between paying rent or buying food or getting your heart medication, getting old in America just sucks triplefold. Our country does not take care of its elderly AT ALL.

As far as the higher statistics of white men shooting themselves, the fact is that women who choose to kill themselves generally choose to do so in other ways. Women generally aren't as likely to commit violent suicides, we are far more likely to overdose on medication or something.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:13 PM on April 22, 2007


It doesn't mean they keep a bloody torso around the house.

Well, maybe not in YOUR house...
posted by darkstar at 3:14 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


The page was non-judgmental, simply presenting facts. You can take those as an interesting snapshot, a ringing condemnation, or as vindicating to gun owners. Everyone will see what they want to see.

(Note to gun advocates: Randomly pulling non-related stats out of your ass doesn't convince those of us who are ambivalent about guns that you're rational and thoughtful.)
posted by maxwelton at 3:14 PM on April 22, 2007


Nine out of ten naked people aren't wearing any clothes.
posted by po at 3:17 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


>Suicide is inherently a voluntary act

So is living in a crappy neighborhood. So is commiting crime and getting shot by the police. So is being in a gang shoot out and being shot by a guy who has better aim. So is not wearing kevlar 24.7.

This graphic is about gun-related deaths, not crime or involuntary actions.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:20 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


BTW, I'm a big gun control advocate. Take them all away and I'd be happiest. Still, I found this chart misleading.
posted by found missing at 3:21 PM on April 22, 2007


But to think that we are hostage to the latest category of "arms" that reinvent the term each generation is a weak philosophical position that requires a faith-based literalist approach.

And let's outlaw blogs while we're at it because they certainly didn't exist back then. If you want freedom of the press, you need to actually be using a printing press, right?
posted by dhammond at 3:24 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Still, I found this chart misleading.

It's annoying when people try to confuse the issue with facts.
posted by dhammond at 3:25 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's too bad they don't give statistics on the type of gun used. I would be willing to bet handguns amount for a far disproportionate share of that graphic.
posted by zhivota at 3:26 PM on April 22, 2007


It's annoying when people try to confuse the issue with facts.

um... snap?

(I don't get your point. A fact can't be misleading when presented without the context of other facts?)
posted by found missing at 3:28 PM on April 22, 2007


Moi: "...sneezing should be outlawed."

Brian B: "Actually, you just made an argument for banning guns, because they would ban the flu if they could."

Actually, I was being satirical. You don't get it when Stephen Colbert makes with the funny either, do you?

"jayder, please give an example."

And while you're up doing that Jayder, get me a pizza.

found missing: "I'm a big gun control advocate. Take them all away and I'd be happiest."

Take away what? Advocates? Alright if you insist. Actually, the odds are slightly better that aliens would turn all Scottsmen into Blanc Mange.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:29 PM on April 22, 2007


So I guess I'm the only one that, on initially seeing the NYT graphic, wondered what an infographic of a bunch of dildos had to do with gun-related injuries?

OK. That's fine.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:31 PM on April 22, 2007


A fact can't be misleading when presented without the context of other facts?

I guess what I'm wondering is what facts are missing? At the end of the day, being killed with a gun (whether self-inflicted or not) is being killed with a gun. That's really all that's being addressed here and it doesn't seem like the facts are pushing an agenda.
posted by dhammond at 3:35 PM on April 22, 2007


Again, I need to draw your attention to the alarming fact that white people are being killed in extraordinarily high numbers in car accidents relative to the numbers of black people being killed in car accidents.
posted by found missing at 3:39 PM on April 22, 2007


No, you're not the only one. Pink was an unfortunate color choice; now pink dildos are equated with gun suicides in the subconscious of the NYTimes readership. This could have far-reaching implications.
posted by Methylviolet at 3:41 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


If so, you'd probably find that a country like Japan with little gun availability would have a very low suicide rate compared with the US, where gun availability is high. Right?

Japan's alarmingly high suicide rate would probably be even higher but for gun control. Non-gun suicides require a certain, and often considerable, amount of premeditation.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 3:41 PM on April 22, 2007


More facts (for those who concern themselves with them):

Rates are PER 100,000

2004 Rate of Death from Firearm by Race:
White 9.00
Black 19.29
Am Indian/AK Native 9.00
Asian/Pac Islander 2.92
Total 10.07

2004 Rate of Death from Firearm by Age Group:
00-04 0.29
05-09 0.31
10-14 1.13
15-19 12.03
20-24 19.29
25-29 16.90
30-34 13.27
35-39 11.23
40-44 11.37
45-49 11.30
50-54 10.72
55-59 9.72
60-64 9.98
65-69 9.54
70-74 10.98
75-79 13.27
80-84 13.37
85+ 11.83
Total 10.07

All data taken from WISQARS.
posted by zhivota at 3:42 PM on April 22, 2007




Holy crap, the former Soviet bloc is off the charts. :(
posted by Saucy Intruder at 3:44 PM on April 22, 2007


You know what other white man killed himself with gun when he got older.

That's right. Hemmingway and Hitler. And Superman.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:44 PM on April 22, 2007


Anyone else notice a climate correlation in those suicide numbers? I'm moving to the tropics!
posted by zhivota at 3:45 PM on April 22, 2007


Sorry, point being?

Point being that it's rather tacky to tell people what they should and shouldn't be surprised about.
posted by the other side at 3:46 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Years ago when I lived in Austin I knew a woman who worked as a nurse at Brackenridge Hospital. I remember her telling me that some of the saddest cases she dealt with, on a regular basis, were people who tried to commit suicide with a gun, failed, and ended up blinded. You can visualize it, I don't have to spell it out for you. So very sad.
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:47 PM on April 22, 2007


Looks like everywhere in the world more men than women kill themselves -- except in China. Why?
posted by Methylviolet at 3:47 PM on April 22, 2007


Point being that it's rather tacky to tell people what they should and shouldn't be surprised about.

Thank you. That was my original point to the original poster, who said: Most of them aren't who you'd expect.
posted by found missing at 3:50 PM on April 22, 2007


Statistics show that life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease. Deal with it.
posted by jonmc at 3:52 PM on April 22, 2007



Imagine how many lives are saved every day because a desperate person didn't have a gun handy, and chose instead to hide out under the covers and see what the next day would bring.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:05 PM on April 22

If so, you'd probably find that a country like Japan with little gun availability would have a very low suicide rate compared with the US, where gun availability is high. Right?
posted by found missing at 4:10 PM on April 22


I just thought this deserved repeating.
posted by joedan at 3:53 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thank you. That was my original point to the original poster, who said: Most of them aren't who you'd expect.

I have to say that this horse is dead. Before we get even more hilarious, we'll have to just drop it and agree to settle it later with a duel. /inappropriate joke
posted by zhivota at 3:53 PM on April 22, 2007


- What is it?
- A gun.
- What is it for?
- Killing people.
- Wow! Does it work?
- Yes.
- Prove it.
- Here.

Then some people get very defensive because somehow someone has linked "gun" with "death"! Come on, what this very beautifully designed graph shows is that, basically, guns do very well what they are made for.
Great for guns, no?
It does the job.
What's to be defensive about?
posted by bru at 3:54 PM on April 22, 2007


I would say a possible reason men kill themselves more is that women talk out their problems and analyze their emotions far more. Which, while at times is annoying, in many ways is healthier. Many men were raised to hold their problems inside. Not always a good thing.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:56 PM on April 22, 2007


found missing: Then you turn around and do the same thing to a commentor (not the poster) who was expressing their own surprise... ("it shouldn't be that surprising")

Spoken as someone who didn't quite expect nearly half to be suicides
posted by the other side at 3:57 PM on April 22, 2007




That WHO link was very interesting. I had always thought that our suicide rate was quite a bit higher and I had no idea that so many former Soviet Union countries had such high suicide rates.
posted by drstein at 3:58 PM on April 22, 2007


joedan:

It isn't really a good attack on gun control to say that people who ban guns still have problems.

What about the United Kingdom? Very strict gun control there, and they have a significantly lower suicide rate than the US. See how this argument is ridiculous now?

We have to face our own problems. We can look internationally for people who have gone before us, but we still have to take into account the fact that the United States is very unique culturally compared to both the UK and Japan.
posted by zhivota at 3:59 PM on April 22, 2007


I would say a possible reason men kill themselves more is that women talk out their problems and analyze their emotions far more.

I think this is less true today than it used to be. True fact: 4 out of 8 hours a day at work are all the other guys bitching about something in their lives (i.e., talking about their problems).

Also, as stated above, women attempt suicide more often than men, but men succeed more often. The reason men succeed at killing themselves more often is because of the method they use: firearms. Women often attempt suicide with pill overdoses, or slitting their wrists, etc., which are not quite as dramatically life-ending. Exploding a bunch of metal into your head will usually kill you pretty good.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:08 PM on April 22, 2007


On non-preview: Fine, dead horse, not that important.

I would say a possible reason men kill themselves more is that women talk out their problems and analyze their emotions far more. Which, while at times is annoying, in many ways is healthier. Many men were raised to hold their problems inside. Not always a good thing.

Statistical evidence seems to bear that out as well:

"Women who survive a suicide attempt are much more likely than men to avail themselves of mental health services, Berman says."
posted by the other side at 4:12 PM on April 22, 2007


But why is that reversed in China, and only in China?
posted by Methylviolet at 4:13 PM on April 22, 2007




I remember about 10 years ago, a family friend's wife, who was Japanese, had jumped off a building. Her body splattered against the ground. I don't think leaving a pretty corpse was a top priority. Co-workers said that earlier that week, they had seen her sitting on the window ledge, gazing out. No one knows why she did what she did, although I've heard theories fly around. I don't care, she left a 6 year old daughter behind who never got to know her mother. I never refer to it as "killed themselves". She did a lot more than that, a part of everyone that knew her died that day as well.

Sorry about the random anecdote, I didn't think I knew many people who had committed suicide and then suddenly all these recollections started bubbling up.

Of the six close suicide stories that I know, two were female, four were male. Four were young, two were middle-aged. None of them used a gun. For the vast majority of suicide cases, even if a gun wasn't around, they would find a way.
posted by liquorice at 4:19 PM on April 22, 2007


Oh, and Australia has strict gun control, akin to the U.K., yet higher suicide rates than America.

Not that I'm pro-gun whatever by any rate, just sayin'.
posted by liquorice at 4:21 PM on April 22, 2007


For the vast majority of suicide cases, even if a gun wasn't around, they would find a way.

Exactly. If someone wants to die that badly any method will do. If someone wants to kill other people that badly, any method will do. All the rest is just all of us pretending we have some kind of control over anything.
posted by jonmc at 4:22 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is a great example of an effective display of information except for the heinous, absolutely heinous wording of "almost 5 men" ... we all understand statistics NY Times and we all understand the concept of rounding. Save us poorly worded phrases and round up or round down as necessary. Giving fractional notation to things which can only exist as a whole is silly in narratives. I think one can be intellectual honest and round to whole numbers for the sake of not pissing me off at least.
posted by geoff. at 4:24 PM on April 22, 2007


Interesting article, found missing. It is interesting that the marriage situation described is the same as that in India (except that it is the woman's family that traditionally buys the husband.) And yet, the women's suicide rate is much lower, while the men's is about the same.
posted by Methylviolet at 4:25 PM on April 22, 2007


...Meanwhile Sri Lanka is the female suicide capital of the world.
posted by Methylviolet at 4:28 PM on April 22, 2007


I wonder what proportion of the elderly suicides were terminally ill or had no quality of life?
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:32 PM on April 22, 2007


However, even the male suicide rate in Sri-Lanka is very high as well.

I'm not surprised, they're all sexually-repressed over there. Of course, that doesn't make them much different from many other Asian countries but the amount of second-hand stories I've heard of men and women comitting suicide in SL over unrequited love or forbidden love is quite astonishing.
posted by liquorice at 4:44 PM on April 22, 2007


Leaving the suicides out of the chart would have "pushed an agenda," and those demanding that suicides shouldn't be mentioned are doing some agenda pushing of their own.

Gun owners buy their weapons to purchase for themselves a sense of control. As it happens however, this sense often proves illusory---when the gun is found by children, or pulled out in the midst of a drunken argument with a spouse or neighbor. Or (as we see in this chart is very often the case) the gun is picked up by its owner, who had turned to it for comfort. And the owner, drunk, miserable, alone, perhaps in the grip of the same anxieties and insecurities that impelled the gun purchase in the first place, during one last desolate evening of toying with the cool power of the gun, finally puts the muzzle to the head and the finger to the trigger. And that's the end.

Those who want us to forget this usual mode of gun death are trying to hide something important---the tragic foolishness of the American effort to lock-and-load as a method for dealing with fear. There's a sadness to this chart that some are anxious to conceal, but which needs to be discussed if only because, to borrow a phrase, we're getting tired of pulling guns from the cold dead hands of white American men.
posted by washburn at 5:18 PM on April 22, 2007 [5 favorites]


I would say a possible reason men kill themselves more is that women talk out their problems and analyze their emotions far more.

No. We kill ourselves more to escape all the goddamn talking and get some peace and quiet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 PM on April 22, 2007 [6 favorites]


Rimshot!
posted by Methylviolet at 5:21 PM on April 22, 2007


No. We kill ourselves more to escape all the goddamn talking and get some peace and quiet

Dude, that's what bars are for.
posted by jonmc at 5:24 PM on April 22, 2007


Allowing everyone to possess guns with the idea that if everyone had them, then people would be afraid to kill other people because someone would be there to stop them actually makes some sense. The part that does not make sense is why those guns would have to be of the lethal nature. Is there a compelling reason why tasers and their equivelants would not get the job done just as efficiently?
posted by flarbuse at 5:32 PM on April 22, 2007


washburn: Gun owners buy their weapons to purchase for themselves a sense of control. As it happens however, this sense often proves illusory---when the gun is found by children, or pulled out in the midst of a drunken argument with a spouse or neighbor. Or (as we see in this chart is very often the case) the gun is picked up by its owner, who had turned to it for comfort. And the owner, drunk, miserable, alone, perhaps in the grip of the same anxieties and insecurities that impelled the gun purchase in the first place, during one last desolate evening of toying with the cool power of the gun, finally puts the muzzle to the head and the finger to the trigger. And that's the end.

You know, I don't think you could pack more assumptions or stereotypes in there if you tried.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:34 PM on April 22, 2007


You know, I don't think you could pack more assumptions or stereotypes in there if you tried.

I kind of felt that way too, before I hit "post;" but then I remembered that what I was saying also happens to be true.
posted by washburn at 5:40 PM on April 22, 2007


This FPP is very likely to have been made in reaction to the VT shooting spree.

Does that make it a copycat event?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:45 PM on April 22, 2007


Someone pointed out to me that an interesting statistic that the chart doesn't show is how many of those suicides are part of a murder-suicide situation, especially with regards to domestic violence.

It is also worth noting that in the US, white folks outnumber black folks 5:1 on average, and up to 6:1 on certain age ranges.
posted by yeloson at 5:45 PM on April 22, 2007


Alternate version:

Humvee owners buy their Humvees to purchase for themselves a sense of control. As it happens however, this sense often proves illusory---when the Humvee is hit by children, or driven in the midst of a drunken argument with a spouse or neighbor. Or (as we see in this chart is very often the case) the Humvee is driven by its owner, who had turned to it for comfort. And the owner, drunk, miserable, alone, perhaps in the grip of the same anxieties and insecurities that impelled the Humvee purchase in the first place, during one last desolate evening of toying with the cool power of the Humvee, finally puts the ken in hand and the turns the ignition. And that's the end.
posted by tkchrist at 5:45 PM on April 22, 2007


I don't think you could pack more assumptions or stereotypes in there if you tried.

he forgot sitting in a lazy boy, in a trailer, with a bottle of jack daniels at his side while the stereo's playing over and over the same damn song ...

"he stopped loving her today ..."
posted by pyramid termite at 5:47 PM on April 22, 2007


finally puts the ken in hand and the turns the ignition

So this is a tortured analogy about knowledge?
posted by maxwelton at 5:56 PM on April 22, 2007


Ken dolls do not have genitals. I think that is important to the Humvee story.
posted by Methylviolet at 5:59 PM on April 22, 2007


pyramid termite, rag on mefi if you must, but do not denigrate the greatest country weeper, ever.
posted by jonmc at 6:00 PM on April 22, 2007


Jayder wrote: Do you apply this theory of constitutional interpretation across the board, to all topics of interest to progressives?

Especially for abortion, which was practiced when the constitution was written.
posted by Brian B. at 6:27 PM on April 22, 2007


For the vast majority of suicide cases, even if a gun wasn't around, they would find a way.
Not necessarily true. I've volunteered as a phone counselor at various hotlines for 15 years. When we get a call that's about suicide (or homicide), we assess the potential that the caller will go through with it. Out of 15 or so markers, the most important are: have they attempted before? Is their plan well thought-out? Are the means close at hand? Is there someone nearby who can intervene?

Suicide requires energy. When someone drops into the trough of depression, they are at the greatest danger just before they hit bottom and again when they are climbing back out. It's then that they have the willpower and energy to act out the suicidal impulse. If they don't have something lethal close by, chances are they will not act and the impulse will pass.

As someone else noted, guns are very efficient at their intended purpose: killing things. They don't make good hammers, suck at being spoons, don't get good TV reception, are marvelously lethal.

Disclaimers: (1) People that call hotlines are usually looking for a reason not to commit suicide, so the calls we get are not a true sample of people who have already made up their mind. Those people don't call (I've only had one person kill himself while on the phone with me -- called up to say goodbye). Since we can't examine those people, however, we have to settle for second best and look at people who turned away from the impulse. (2) If the statement about suicides finding another way is taken to mean successful suicides -- well, duh.
posted by forrest at 6:40 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Especially for abortion, which was practiced when the constitution was written.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:55 PM on April 22, 2007


Ken dolls do not have genitals. I think that is important to the Humvee story.

A friend of mine worked for an ad company that pitched for the H3. And the executive they met with was serious about creating a campaign that would debunk the compensatory issue and assure h3 owners that people didn't think they had small dicks. Nobody could get the data on that. Seems h3 owners didn't want their dicks measured.
posted by tkchrist at 6:58 PM on April 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not.

No sarcasm intended. To attempt to rule against abortion as if the founders didn't already assume it was in the scope of our civil rights is a fundamentalist stupidity.
posted by Brian B. at 7:06 PM on April 22, 2007


Is there a compelling reason why tasers and their equivelants would not get the job done just as efficiently?

Yes, there are several.

1) Tasers kill you about 1.4% of the time. According to the same link, a .38 special is about 50% fatal.

2) Tasers fail about 5% of the time [pdf].

Gun death statistics, even shots fired statistics are easy to get. Try and find some numbers on how often tasers get used.

The bottom line is that guns are a last-resort measure. You don't whip out a firearm unless the excrement has hit the AC. Tasers have a much lower barrier to use. Because it is perceived to be 'harmless' they're used in situations that may not warrant them, situations that would have been talked down pre-taser. Hell, watch Cops you can see it happen.
posted by Skorgu at 7:22 PM on April 22, 2007


Skorgu writes:

"Tasers kill you about 1.4% of the time"

but his link says:

The original model (1974) Taser had a 1.4% fatality rate

Seems like there's a problem here...
posted by washburn at 7:40 PM on April 22, 2007


The suicide rate for deployed troops dropped dramatically in 2004. Swanner said no suicides were reported in January or February, and just one soldier took his own life in March. The cause of another fatality has not yet been determined.
Why shoot yourself when you can just get in the way of an enemy bullet? They probably don't count those as suicides.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:56 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


another day, another anti-gun scold, and with a chart this time. what we need is for someone to come up with a chart which could be used to get people to give up their right of free exercise of religion.
posted by bruce at 8:36 PM on April 22, 2007


another day, another anti-gun scold, and with a chart this time. what we need is for someone to come up with a chart which could be used to get people to give up their right of free exercise of religion.

Fundies already want us to lose religious freedom, and their support of guns is as shakey as their support of privacy. If people really cared about guns they would create a tax revenue stream from them that nobody would want to see disappear.
posted by Brian B. at 8:50 PM on April 22, 2007


Seems H3 owners didn't want their dicks measured.

In my day, all you needed to show for a test drive was a credit card.
posted by rob511 at 9:29 PM on April 22, 2007


But why is that reversed in China, and only in China?

Re: the suicide rate for Chinese women-- I thought I'd read that rural Chinese women had one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Here's one article which cites this.
posted by jokeefe at 9:56 PM on April 22, 2007


“It's too bad they don't give statistics on the type of gun used. I would be willing to bet handguns amount for a far disproportionate share of that graphic.”

I think so, too. Still, my grandfather killed himself with a rifle. And let's just say that for both my father's and my sake it's a good thing that he or I have never kept a gun of any kind. Two of three of his brothers did/do, though.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:27 PM on April 22, 2007


Numbers don't lie.

They lay.

and EB, I kwym.
posted by lysdexic at 10:33 PM on April 22, 2007


“For the vast majority of suicide cases, even if a gun wasn't around, they would find a way.”

I don’t agree. I can’t really know, of course, but it seems to me that suicide by gun is easy. Other methods are uncertain and may be more unattractive to the (predominately) men who choose to kill themselves with guns. Per my previous comment, I feel that there were at least a few times in my life where access to a gun might have resulted in me killing myself. And that perhaps the same is true of my father.

I would say a possible reason men kill themselves more is that women talk out their problems and analyze their emotions far more.

I don’t think is true at all. I suspect that there’s two factors that result in more male suicides. The first is that men choose more violent methods, like gunshots, that are more certain to cause death. The second is related to the first: I think that part of the reason that men choose these methods more than women is because they are more certain. I think that men may contemplate or come near to suicide less frequently than women, but when they do, they mean it. I do believe that a large portion of all suicides are what people call “asking for help” in a sense, including even many of those men who choose these most violent methods. Part of what it means in many cases to be suicidal is to feel so out of options, so powerless, that suicide seems like the only alternative. An implication of that is that many of these people would choose other alternatives if they knew they existed. Speaking for myself, there’s a sense when one is suicidal that, if you don’t succeed, at least everything will be different somehow. Anyway, I think that women may be more likely to attempt suicide in that middle-ground of intentionally taking their chances—it’s not sure that it will succeed but it’s not sure that it will fail, either. Either way, they’ve changed their lives. Men may be more inclined to just go all the way and be sure of it.

Thanks, lysdexic. Don’t we wish we didn’t?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:46 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, my cousin had four guns, various knives, brass knuckles, throwing stars, all sorts of freaky survivalist/Soldier of Fortune weapons, as we learned when my dad and I went to clean out his apartment after his suicide. But he actually killed himself with poison, because he didn't want to horrify his relatives any more than necessary. (He said so in the note.)

Whereas a guy I knew shot himself in the face in front of my boyfriend. His eyeball came out of his head. He didn't die, but imagine my boyfriend's alarm.

So the take-home, O Mefi would-be suicides? Don't be an asshole. Kill yourself in a way that is not gross.

(Probably that accounts at least partially for the male/female suicide gap -- women are considerate, and the less messy suicide methods are generally also less lethal.)
posted by Methylviolet at 11:00 PM on April 22, 2007


Um...the reason that men kill themselves with guns is that they're far more likely to have a gun. 45% of men over 18 report owning a gun in the US, vs. 11% of women.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:01 AM on April 23, 2007


What I found most surprising about the graphic was how black males fared. We are talking about only 6% of the population, and yet they account for the plurality of deaths in all of the under 39 groups. I mean, yeah, it fits the stereotype of "troubled inner-city youth" and all that, but Christ.
posted by moonbiter at 12:32 AM on April 23, 2007


Is there a compelling reason why tasers and their equivelants would not get the job done just as efficiently? According to my cop buddy, there are people who shrug off tasers, pepper spray and even getting whacked with nightsticks. I'm not sure if they are just hard ass, pumped up, or drugged out. On the other hand, I would hope that if someone took your taser away from you in a fight and shocked you with it they wouldn't kill you afterward. Definitely a trade off.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:09 AM on April 23, 2007


That WHO figure for India actually hides a major intra-country variation.

Suicide figures for _south_ India alone are actually off the charts; in some regions, they're as high as "148 per 100,000 [for women], and 58 per 100,000 for men." Suicide has become the #1 killer for young people between 15 to 19 in south India. The right word to use here is 'epidemic', even without including all those farmer suicides that have been hogging headlines.

Reasons are plenty and have nothing to do with repressed sexuality as someone was suggesting earlier:-
Psychologist Mathew Kurien of the Southern Medical Centre, Bangalore, agrees. "In this modern age," Dr Kurien says, "children are not brought up peacefully. They are under pressure to deliver at school; they are under pressure to appear for competitive examinations. After they reach puberty, no one in the family gives them any advice about the meaning of life."

Dr Kurien's argument is borne out by the fact that every year, when the results of secondary and intermediate school examinations are announced, counselling centres across the country are flooded with distress calls from students.
Additionally, I'm struck by the fact that virtually the _only_ places where young women commit suicide more than men are south India and China. Not making any points about culture or anything, just an idle observation.

(Sorry, none of this has anything to do with the otherwise absorbing thread on gun-control, but thought I'd point this out)
posted by the cydonian at 1:28 AM on April 23, 2007


I was kidding about the repressed sexuality remark although I wouldn't say that it has nothing to do with it.

Of course the pressure to study and do well and make your family proud is a big issue. It's ingrained in the culture. It's particulary competitive in Sri-Lanka, where for a population of 18 million plus only has (I think) three universities. You could get top marks in your subjects and still not get accepted. Even for young girls, who may be expected to give up they're profession once their married or pregnant, education is still a top priority. You bring shame to the family if you fail to do well at school and that narrow interpretation of what success is still trickles down to emigrated familes in Western countries. I read somewhere that the suicde rates of South Asian women in Britain is also exceptionally high.

Ethereal Bligh:(and others who commented regarding this) My point was obviously made in the light that Australia even with strick gun control still has such a high suicide rate. The issue is much larger than if there is a gun around or not. You mention that you may have if you had a gun in your presence, but arguably, if you had wanted to commit suicide "enough" you would have used another method.
posted by liquorice at 2:11 AM on April 23, 2007


they're = their/ their = they're/suicde = suicide/strick = strict

And possibly more. grr!

posted by liquorice at 2:23 AM on April 23, 2007


I read a fiction book once (so that's how good these figures are) that claimed something like countries who's suicide figures are high, will have lower other violent crime figures. Something to do with a civilized people turning their angst inward rather than outward. But it was a fiction book and written in the 60s (I think). So it's not even anecdotal evidence.

My understanding on the male/female thing, is that men are more likely to be violent, which is why they're more likely to succeed at suicide. On the flip side, the levels of depression in women are way up there. And then, there's the hidden figures of male depression - how many guys are depressed that we don't know about because they're not reaching out?

And me too, the dildo thing. And I would have coloured suicide bullets blue, rather than pink. And I would have lined them up a bit neater too. And I would have put in some tables so that the reader could compare figures. Sheesh.
posted by b33j at 2:24 AM on April 23, 2007


Postroad asks: What does the miliary know that pro-gun people seem not to know?

Um, that if you give everyone a loaded gun, you wind up with massive amounts of gun deaths.

This is very, very difficult to understand, I know. It's too bad that no other countries have a gun ban so we could compare figures [/sarcasm].

Japan has roughly, erm ZERO gun deaths per day... but that isn't to do with a lack of guns in Japan, oh no. Perish the thought.

Japanese people are just more peaceful than Americans, right?
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:44 AM on April 23, 2007


Just adding my $.02 on the military/live ammo question -As most folks have figured out, our government can be downright penny-pinching at times, and handing out live ammo to everyone would be pretty damn expensive, at least to a bureaucrat...
posted by pupdog at 4:55 AM on April 23, 2007


handing out live ammo to everyone would be pretty damn expensive, at least to a bureaucrat.

Yep, it's dern expensive replacing all those soldiers who kill themselves.
posted by alms at 6:16 AM on April 23, 2007


It seems like one relatively easy-to-acquire statistic would either support or put-to-rest the ubiquitous "if-we-all-owned-guns-no-one-would-be-shot" theory. Does anyone here know the rate of homicide by firearms for gun owners vs. non-gun-owners?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 6:22 AM on April 23, 2007


Malor wrote:

Based on the 2005 numbers, an average of 107 people die from car accidents each day.

Cancer kills 1500/day.


You forgot how many people get killed by terrorism in this country each day - I'm sure that's waaaaay more than both of them combined.
posted by any major dude at 6:36 AM on April 23, 2007


any major dude: sure, absolutely. But if anything, it proves my point: the parties are exploiting tragedies political gain. The Dems are doing it with VT; Bush did it to a terrifying degree after 9/11.

Bush's malfeasance, I believe, is enormously worse, but the new attempts at gun control are the same basic idea... 9/11 panic writ small.
posted by Malor at 6:40 AM on April 23, 2007


Darn it. "tragedies for'.
posted by Malor at 6:40 AM on April 23, 2007


b33j :

I think that your book was James A. Michener's The Drifters - that was his book about a group of hippies roaming Europe and Africa. I read it when I was in high school.
posted by rfs at 7:19 AM on April 23, 2007


Females attempt suicide more often but men are more successful when they attempt it.
posted by clockworkjoe at 4:38 PM on April 22

Females might have more attempts, but males like to use guns, and they are a lot more successful at it.
posted by found missing at 4:38 PM on April 22


You guys are such sexists. Women can kill themselves just as well as guys can, given the opportunity.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:31 AM on April 23, 2007


...

I like peanut butter and jelly sammiches! =)

this is just such a depressing thread I wanted to spruce it up a bit.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:33 AM on April 23, 2007


For the vast majority of suicide cases, even if a gun wasn't around, they would find a way.

How the hell could you possibly know if that were true or not? Comparing America to Japan? Ok, genius, tell me how many suicides Japan would have if they had as many guns as the USA? What, you can't? Because the statement is just a wild guess that can't be tested one way or the other?

But doesn't that WHO chart show that suicide rates are constant across all cultures and so you can prove the affects of gun ownership by comparing any random country to any other one?

Based on the 2005 numbers, an average of 107 people die from car accidents each day.

And here's another valid comparison. Because Americans spend equal amounts of time every day behind the wheel of a car and behind the barrel of a gun. And because the overall benefit to society of owning cars is exactly the same as the benefit of owning guns.
posted by straight at 9:55 AM on April 23, 2007


But doesn't that WHO chart show that suicide rates are constant across all cultures and so you can prove the affects of gun ownership by comparing any random country to any other one?

As far as I can tell, the effects of gun ownership are as follows:
-Americans possess about 222 million total firearms, among them 76 million handguns
-About 35% of American households contain at least one gun
-From these 222 million guns in 35% of American households, about 81 people die per day (a total of about 30,000 per year)
-Over half of those 30,000 are suicides

Sorry, but the numbers just don't suggest anything negative about "the effects of gun ownership" in the average case. About 221.9997 million of our guns somehow manage not to kill anybody each year -- quite remarkable, considering that they are designed to be lethal weapons. Guns kill fewer people each year than falling, and yet we're supposed to believe that they're a public health problem serious enough to justify degrading our Constitutional rights and engaging in yet another unenforceable, hurrah-for-prisons War On Something? Against 35% of American households and something like sixty to eighty million gun owners?

No, thank you.
posted by vorfeed at 11:28 AM on April 23, 2007 [1 favorite]



Actually, there are a bunch of studies that look at the effects of gun ownership on suicide rates and they are not pretty; this one is just the latest and was controlled for some confounders like rates of mental illness:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/17/health/17risk.html


Suicide is often an impulsive act-- when you have something that's instantly deadly in the hand of an impulsive person, you have an irreversible outcome from a momentary bad judgment.

We'd like to think that if someone kills him or herself "it would happened anyway" even if things were slightly different because it relieves our guilt. In some cases, this patently isn't true however-- as can be heard as well in the stories of people who tried rather determinedly, failed for some reason out of their control and are now profoundly grateful that they did fail.

Of course, the same is true of many murders, which is why it would be a good idea to keep guns out of the hands of people with poor impulse control and why there is a relationship between availability of guns and the deadliness of crime. It's not a perfect correlation, but nothing is.
posted by Maias at 6:14 PM on April 23, 2007


lysdexic, your comment is duly noted and is in the running as a potential song title.
posted by sklero at 6:41 PM on April 23, 2007


*blinks*
What'd I say? Oh, that. Cool!
posted by lysdexic at 7:30 PM on April 23, 2007


Is it guns in general that are a problem, or handguns in particular? It is much easier to conceal and carry handguns, making it far more likely the handgun will be used on impulse.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 PM on April 23, 2007


Handguns are used disproportionately often in both murders and suicides.

There are *A LOT* of hunting rifles and hunting shotguns in this country. And they are occasionally used in murders and suicides. More often accidental targeting (i.e. "hunting accidents".. see also Dick Cheney).

But that's where the gun debate always derails. Most of the gun lobby (specifically the NRA) is made up of sportsmen, hunters. They get preached incessantly to that the libruls want to take their hunting tools away. This is, generally, not the case.

Few people, except strict total anti-gun adherents (which are fine) want to completely remove all firearms from existence. Hunting rifles are not "the problem" when it comes to firearms in the US.

Handguns and assault weapons occupy a much larger place of prominence in the debate, and in people's psyche. And their never-ending defense by the gun lobby makes the entire gun lobby look much less reasonable than their primary constituents (sportsmen) are.

I have used guns in the past. I've have been a hunter, shot recreationally, and even took marksmanship in the ROTC in college, and helped teach the course.

I do not hate guns. I don't want to take your hunting rifles away.

But I believe handguns should cost $10,000 each and require more paperwork to buy than required to buy a house. They are a blight, a menace.

A handgun is far, far, FAR more likely to be used in an accidental shooting, a domestic violence attack/murder, or a suicide than ever against an intruder or attacker. It's like carrying around lit dynamite in your back pocket on the 1-in-a-million chance you find a mine shaft you need to open.

The story goes that many POLICE OFFICERS never discharge their weapons in the line of duty. These delusions of ordinary citizens carrying guns to defend themselves are just that, delusions.

I believe assault rifles should be illegal to own in any shape or form, modified or not, full-auto or not, oversized clip or not. These are military grade weapons, and have no reason to be in the hands of the populace.

The above are just my opinions. I don't hate guns. I don't want to take away your hunting rifles. I think handgun ownership should be severely limited and monitored, and I think assault weapons should be completely illegal for civilians to own.

That is hardly a "crazy" position, but yet some would characterize it as that. Some of those people also think civilians should be able to own mortars, flame throwers, tanks, or fighter jets. These people are dangerous and dellusional. RED DAWN! RED DAWN! I AM A WOLVERINE!
posted by Ynoxas at 10:42 AM on April 24, 2007


Ynoxas, one man's assault weapon is another man's hunting rifle, but I agree with you that making guns more expensive and inaccessible would reduce gun violence and suicide.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:13 AM on April 24, 2007


An interesting presentation of the gun death stats.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:35 PM on April 24, 2007


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