A reader writes:
If guns are lawful, suicide becomes much easier and requires much less effort and thought. If you have a loaded gun at hand, a passing suicidal thought can be carried out immediately and almost certainly fatally. Other methods of killing yourself take time and effort and have a much lower success rate. People have time to decide that they might as well live.
When Australia introduced much stricter gun controls in 1996 following the Port Arthur massacre, they were accompanied by a buyback scheme and had the political advantage of being introduced by a right-wing government, which stopped partisan politics being played with it. The drop in the suicide rate was substantial and there doesn’t seem to have been a corresponding rise in other ways of taking your life.
This is actually the exact reason I never see myself owning a gun. My sibling and several of my friends attempted suicide when they were young adults, but none were successful. They all survived because guns weren’t easily available to them. I hope to never suffer from depression to the degree I want to kill myself, but I know due to family history it’s possible and I don’t feel comfortable having such an easy means of suicide. I also hope gun owners think twice about letting their teenage children know how to access their guns.
Another points to “more evidence that guns make suicide rates higher”:
In 2006, after years of suicides among young men in the Israel Defense Forces, authorities forbade the troops from bringing their rifles home on weekends. Suicides dropped by 40 percent, according to a 2010 study by psychiatrists with the IDF and the Sheba Medical Center. … Firearms were used in 68 percent of Army suicides in 2010, according to an Army Health and Violence report released this year. Most often, soldiers shot themselves to death at home or in the barracks. By comparison, more than half of suicides by U.S. civilians annually involved firearms, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One of my daughter’s classmates committed suicide last May. He went down into the basement, took out one of his father’s guns, and put the barrel in his mouth. He left behind three grieving brothers, all sad and angry young men. I don’t have the guts to ask if the guns have been removed from the house. I hope, for the boys’ sakes, the guns have been destroyed. Sometimes, suicide can be contagious.
Earlier post here.