February 21, 2013

"Since suicidal behavior often has an impulsive component, those who are more determined..."

"... can be saved if the method is made more difficult. This can be aided by reduced access to guns."

67 comments:

edutcher said...

Baloney.

If they want to do it, they'll find a way.

Amartel said...

Ban the Golden Gate Bridge.

Lavinia Grace Gilbert Schwarz said...

tell it to dfw and his rope

Jehu said...

Guys generally choose more lethal methods when they commit suicide.
In Japan, I understand, where the suicide rate is greater than here, one popular favorite is to step in front of a train, of which they have many.

Revenant said...

The theory isn't inherently crazy -- it just isn't *correct*. In the absence of a gun people simply opt for one of the numerous other impulsive options, like jumping, hanging, car exhaust or opening a vein.

Which is why there is no correlation between national gun ownership and national suicide rate.

Sam L. said...

Knives are available most everywhere.

m stone said...

I don't guess that dfw was impulsive, having read his notes to the unfinished "Pale King." along with the book. He was deliberate and methodical in much of what he did.

Brilliance doesn't save you though.

DADvocate said...

More bullshit and lies. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health "professionals" are more likely to state their opinions as fact than any other profession. There are virtually no facts in mental health, so it comes down to who is the "most qualified", i.e. who has the highest degree.

This often leads to conflict between psychiatrists and psychologists. An M.D. can write prescriptions and has a more difficult to attain and more technical degree. The psychologist spends more time actually studying psycho pathology. In the end, neither "know" very much.

I knew a guy whose father was a psychiatrist. Most fucked up family ever. Eventually the entire family of four committed suicide using pills obtained via prescription. Guess we should reduce access to medications. Prescription drugs are the most common type used in overdose suicides.

Then we have those who commit suicide by car exhaust (carbon monoxide) in the garage. We need to reduce access to garages, cars and garden hoses. And, so it goes.

How did humanity manage to survive for thousands of years without these misdirected do-gooders? How did we manage to build so many great civilizations without these know-it-alls to save us from ourselves?

Jaske said...

What if Dr. X shot me at my request? Is it different than poison injection?

Astro said...

"Since _dictatorial_ behavior often has an impulsive component, those who are more determined..."
"... can be saved if the method is made more difficult. This can be aided by reduced access to _power_."

Hey, it's like MadLibs! Anybody can play.

Bob Ellison said...

Review the numbers.

Compare and contrast. The numbers are probably not what you think.

traditionalguy said...

Guns don't kill people. Bullets kill people. So outlawing bullets in guns is the answer. By the time the manic impulsive suicidal man/woman finds an illegal bullets dealer, they will be well into their depressive state and be unable to load it. Boy, is suicide hard or what.

Science has all the answers here!

DADvocate said...

Compare and contrast. The numbers are probably not what you think.

What do you think we think the numbers are? Are you a mind reader?

DADvocate said...

By profession, doctors are the most likely to commit suicide. Reduce doctors' access to themselves.

Sorun said...

More lives could be saved by restricting what people are allowed to say to each other.

Having a 6pm curfew would also save many lives. Let's do it.

Phil 3:14 said...

Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health "professionals" are more likely to state their opinions as fact than any other profession.

As a non-mental health professional (physician) the notion of impulsivity and lethality of method as pertains to suicide are correct. I've taken care of several overdose cases who took pills and booze and hoped to fall asleep and die but who later woke up and were suddenly fearful of dying.

Where I would question the claim of the writer is in the association of strict gun access law and reduced numbers of suicides by gun.

Bob Ellison said...

DADvocate, I'm no mind-reader; I'm just a guy who's been around the block. Most people think suicide is a youth thing, an impulse thing, as Freedman suggests. A terrible tragedy visited upon our those little buds in which we deposit so much hope.

It's not. People seem to kill themselves when they lose the will to live and when living seems harder than dying. That seems obvious, but it runs counter to modern sensibilities.

elkh1 said...

Close down the Golden Gate Bridge, ban all sharp knives, ban all high rises, i.e. anything taller than one story, ban all sleeping pills, ban all chemicals, ban all automobiles.

Democrats need the Wizard of OZ to give them a brain.

Amartel said...

If it only saves ONE LIFE, it will ALL be worth it ...

Revenant said...

How does one test the theory that suicide is impulsive?

It is somewhat difficult to poll dead people about their mental state at time of death.

Methadras said...

Jehu said...

Guys generally choose more lethal methods when they commit suicide.
In Japan, I understand, where the suicide rate is greater than here, one popular favorite is to step in front of a train, of which they have many.


That is also popular in a northern san diego coastal town called encinitas.

DADvocate said...

Phil - I worked in mental health for 10 years. About 75% of those in the field are worthless. All the successful suicides I am familiar with that I can think of at the moment were premeditated. Planned at least a day or two in advance. I can think of many seemingly impulsive unsuccessful attempts. Maybe it's a mistake to put as much weight on successful attempts when weighing factors leading to actual suicide.

Bob - I agree with you about the impulse thing. It's not as much of an impulse thing as many think. When you drive to the bridge to jump off, or go home, find your gun, load it and shoot yourself, or fabricate a noose, it's not an impulse. If you took the same actions and time to kill another person, there would be no question about malice forethought.

Methadras said...

DADvocate said...

By profession, doctors are the most likely to commit suicide. Reduce doctors' access to themselves.


Dentists, as I understand it, have the highest suicide rates amongst all medical professions.

Revenant said...

Reduce doctors' access to themselves.

Oh, I see you've heard of Obamacare.

DADvocate said...

I'm tired of being told that I need to live my life and willfully be oppressed in such a manner that some nut job won't go ballistic, or kill himself, or get too fat. You don't live by walking around on eggshells or being a slave of the state or society.

tmitsss said...

Lawyers see stuff

Q. Why did you cross into the other lane in front of that dunp truck

A. I just did not want to live anymore

Suicide attempt survivor being sued by dump truck owner.

DADvocate said...

Dentists, as I understand it, have the highest suicide rates amongst all medical professions.

According to the Newsweek it's doctors. I found other links that said the same thing.

Michael K said...

" I've taken care of several overdose cases who took pills and booze and hoped to fall asleep and die but who later woke up and were suddenly fearful of dying. "

When I was an intern and short of sleep, I used to call those people "underdoses." I would be kneeling on their chest at 2 AM passing a large tube to wash out their stomach. If they'd only known how to use a gun I could have gotten more sleep.

GrandpaMark said...

It only takes a second to pull the trigger and end your pain.Other methods hurt(hanging, jumping off a bridge) or may cause suffering due to remorse while you bleed out or wait for the final sleep/ Why is it "our" business to make suicide more difficult?

kcom said...

My brother committed suicide four weeks ago yesterday. It's not a rational act in the sense that his problems, and he had his share, were no greater than that of millions of others who don't go that route. He just seemed to lose the ability to deal with life and get through to the other side. In his brief note he said there was something wrong with his brain and he didn't know what to do about it. But when it came to killing himself he was very focused and rational. He researched various ways to commit suicide (browser history) and wound up finally buying a gun and using it the same day. Was it an impulse? Well, let's put it this way. He started planning the week before he did it. And he went so far as to get a new driver's license the morning of his suicide in order (we pretty much assume) to meet the legal requirements to buy a gun. How do fight that? We only knew he had a gun after he was dead. My sister saw him the day before and he gave her no clue. If the gun hadn't worked out, I'm sure he could have found another avenue. His problem wasn't impulse, it was methodically hiding his intentions from everyone he knew.

kcom said...

P.S. I'm going through his computer files tonight. Or, at least, I should have started by now but haven't quite gotten there. None of it makes much sense.

Bob Ellison said...

Kcom, that's a terrible story. Thank you for telling it. Reach out if you need.

bpm4532 said...

It may be true, but loss of employment, loss of hope, and broken societies may be largely to blame for quite a number of suicides.

Fix those problems, first,

Cedarford said...

More liberal bullshit to feed the anti-gun agenda.
The US is well down on the list of suicide rates by nation..

Which correlate more to higher performing higher educated colder climate societies with high expectations -
vs. fat dumb happy and warm 3rd Worlders.

Rabel said...

It's an obvious truth that a gun provides an effective way to kill yourself. If all the guns in America disappeared overnight, there would be fewer successful suicides. And that's a small point in the emotional argument for gun control.

Small for a number of reasons not well-covered by the Times. First is the fact that the guns are here and not going away. Second is the constitutional right to own one of those guns.

But beyond that, what they don't consider is that a person truly committed to suicide will usually use the most effective means available. Without a gun those people would simply use another method. Ropes and bridges are pretty easy to find if just a bit more difficult to work with.

The only significant number of lives saved would be among the truly committed who botch the effort due to the less effective means.

So I give the Times a point or two towards the emotional side of the debate over the right to bear arms. But nothing on the rational side. The guns aren't going to disappear and a constitutional amendment banning firearms is not in the cards.

I do have some sympathy for the writers at Times. It must be terribly stressful mentally to be pro-euthanasia and anti-suicide. And we all know what too much terrible mental stress can lead to. I wish them the best of luck.

YoungHegelian said...

@bpm4532,

It may be true, but loss of employment, loss of hope, and broken societies may be largely to blame for quite a number of suicides.

I'm not sure that's true, bpm.

The link that Bob Ellison posted at 7:16PM shows that blacks & latinos have the lowest suicide rates among ethnic groups in the US. Yet they would seem to be the ideal candidates for the "broken dreams" explanations you posit.

I think (with, I must admit, absolutely no good reason to back it up) that suicide is so embedded in cultural taboo that it's not our troubles that push us there. It's the combination of our troubles & suicide being seen as a viable way out that sets up the dynamic.

G Joubert said...

Where I live (Oregon) suicide is a right, and others are shamed if they second-guess or judge.

bagoh20 said...

"Why is it "our" business to make suicide more difficult?"

It's government's business to make everything more difficult, and they are awesome at it. You don't even have to ask them to. Take income tax for example. They want money - who doesn't, but you have to collect boxes full of documents for 12 months, and hire a highly trained professional deciphering 80,000 pages of rules just to figure out how much to send them.

That is just an incredible feat of selfless obstruction which the rest of us could never even dream of coming up with. It might be some kind of magic, but they can do it over and over with virtually any area of life you can think of.

bagoh20 said...

I like a gun for this job, because what I would fear most is changing my mind after jumping, swallowing, stabbing, hanging, or stepping between Gloria Allred and a TV Camera.

You know damned well that as soon as you jump off that bridge, your first though is: "Am I sure about this?", "I forgot to watch the last episode of Gilligan's Island", or "Did I throw away those magazines under my mattress?"

You can't help it. It's gonna force it's way right into your head at the worst possible moment.

kcom said...

Perhaps the explanation of the socioeconomic difference in suicide is the difference between expectations and reality. The closer your expectations are to reality the less likely you are to feel a need to escape at all costs. For those with high, but unmet expectations, the gap is where they fall into the darkness. I think that's what happened to my brother. It wasn't the specific problems he had, it was the general sense of disappointment in his plans for life and his reality. Mix in a little unstable brain chemistry and you have a recipe for the unthinkable.

LilyBart said...


The anti-gun group will use any excuse. Anti-Gun, not public safety, is what they are.

My mom's friend (a woman) cut her throat. My landlord (a man) did the carbon monoxide in the garage. My husband's roommate hung himself. People determined to 'end it all' will find a way.

Shall we outlaw knives, enclosed garages (or cars perhaps) and ropes? After all, if it saves one life......


And what about the lives lost because the crimials will be more confident that their victims are unarmed and cannot defend themselves? What about the increase in violent crime that comes with strong gun control?

LilyBart said...

kcom said...
My brother committed suicide four weeks ago yesterday.



So sorry to hear about your brother.

Chuck Currie said...

Why do we care.

Chef Mojo said...

Bullshit.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Freedman's own argument suggests the possibility that the greater lethality of guns is partly an artifact of their being preferred by those suicide attempters who mean business.

But what's all this "limit access to guns" stuff? I thought only paranoid wingers believed anyone wants to do that. The only things anyone really wants to limit access to are high-magazine clips and bayonet mounts-- both very important to suicides.

furious_a said...

Method of suicide is a highly personal choice. I thought the New York Times was all about choice...

...except when they're not.

roesch/voltaire said...

I guess that explains why states which have introduced sand gun laws have much lower rates of suicide by guns--- Australia for example. For some, the gloom and depression passes and they do get on with life.

John Cunningham said...

Hey I thought lefties were totally into individual autonomy and choice. thus it is evil to interfere with their choice to off themselves. besides, every suicide helps the financing of social security!

Gene said...

I don't see what is so awful about letting people commit suicide if that's what they want to do. We should be making it easier for people who want to exit the vale of tears sooner rather than later.

Cedarford said...

Gene said...
I don't see what is so awful about letting people commit suicide if that's what they want to do. We should be making it easier for people who want to exit the vale of tears sooner rather than later.

=================
Getting past the Right to Life drivel about how every extra moment of dying in excruciating agony from metastasized cancer is a gift from Jesus and you have no moral right to suicide or euthanasia....there is a problem with a libertarian credo as well that "it's all about choice! and celebrating the call some make to commit suicide."

Truth is all too many suicides are high performing people that have many, many years left to make contributions to themselves, people near them, and society in general if they can only get rid of unbearable mental pain or chemical imbalance depression....

We want to save that sort. We should work to reduce suicides. It isn't welfare mammies disgusted with themselves ending their own lives...it's top performers and creative talent and those that feel more responsibility to themselves and others concluding they failed to achieve what they should have in life.

tim maguire said...

Well of course, if you make a change to the gun laws, some people who would otherwise die, will live. But that's true of almost any legslation on a national scale

But only with guns does that end the examination. In any other case, they'd balance the gains against the losses.

Robin said...

Wasn't the NYT supporting people's "right" to suicide?

William said...

There was the case of the guy who jumped from the Brooklyn Bridge and landed on an abuttment twenty or thirty feet down. He must have been very depressed prior to the attempt, and his mood was certainly not lightened when he learned of his quadriplegia subsequent to the fall. It just wasn't his time that time, and the joke's on him. Quadriplegics don't get another chance. This tragedy could have been avoided if NY had more liberal gun laws.

William said...

After they passed Prohibtion, there were far less drunk drivers and far less vehicular homicides. The rate shot up again after Prohibition was repealed. If we can save just one life shouldn't we bring back Prohibition?

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven said...

So, the reason Finland, Belgium, France, New Zealand, and Austria have higher-than-US suicide rates is that guns are more readily available in those countries than they are in the US?

No?

Huh.

It's almost like there's exactly no correlation between gun availability and suicide rates.

But I'm sure that can't be true, we have an expert opinion to the contrary.

Deb said...

Kcom- very sorry to hear about your brother. Recently an acquaintance of mine committed suicide, about a month ago in fact. Having witnessed the pain her family and friends experienced, my heart goes out to you.

Peter said...

Too bad about the folks who kill themselves but my rights are not affected by them.

Nor are my rights affected by murderous loons. There is a reason that my right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

AllenS said...

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your brother, kcom.

Shanna said...

My brother committed suicide four weeks ago yesterday.

I am so sorry to hear that.

Shanna said...

As for the gun thing, we talk about this at work and since I live in a state where people are very resistant to anyone talking about taking their guns, mostly the idea is to put them somewhere else when the person is in crissi only. So if someone is actively suicidal, maybe let your brother take the guns to his house for a little while. It wont' stop someone who is really committed, but it might stop someone from doing it on impulse.

carrie said...

Less than half the people I have known who have committed suicide have used guns. I can think of 3 by guns, 1 by carbon monoxide, 2 by hanging, 3 by overdoses of pills, 1 by slitting his throat,and 1 by drowning. The three who used guns were elderly men who had terminal diseases, and I think that they would have found other methods. The others all suffered from mental illnesses and I am guessing didn't have access to guns so they found another way. Only two of those people were women--1 by hanging and 1 by pills. The most horrible one was the man who slit his throat. We also had a male neighbor who drove his car into a telephone pole in the middle of the night that everyone suspected was suicide because he suffered from chronic pain, but it was ruled accidental. I don't think that putting more restrictions on guns would have much affect on the suicide rate.

carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ErnieG said...

tmitsss said...

Lawyers see stuff

Q. Why did you cross into the other lane in front of that dunp truck

A. I just did not want to live anymore

Suicide attempt survivor being sued by dump truck owner.


Wouldn't that be more like "Dump truck owner being sued by suicide attempt survivor"?

Bryan C said...

And rope, and cars, and knives, and water, and pills, and high places, and...

"Knives are available most everywhere."

I suspect a variation of Britain's preposterous knife-control laws will be arriving here soon. Watch.

Borepatch said...

There doesn't seem to be any difference in suicide rates between adjacent locales with differing gun control laws, e.g. Montgomery County MD and Fairfax County VA. Similar demographics but very different gun laws.

The NYT opinion piece seems like a "Just So" story, like a giraffe getting a longer neck by stretching for the leaves higher on the bush. I'd love to see data (any data at all) suggesting that the assertion is correct.

kcom, I'm so sorry about your brother.

kcom said...

Thanks to everyone who acknowledged my brother. He was a good guy and no one expected this. We were definitely all surprised by what he did and the manner he did it. You just have to accept it, though, cause you can't change it. I don't know if he'd ever fired a gun before.

Some of you who are Jeopardy fans might remember him since he was a five time champion about 10 years ago. He also got a chance to secretly play against Watson the computer when it was under development and hadn't made the news yet. They invited a bunch of past Jeopardy champions to help them test it.