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Could gun control drastically cut male suicide rates?

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Men’s Rights activists like to remind people that men commit suicide far more often than women.

But that’s not because men are many times more miserable than women. In fact, women are far more likely to attempt suicide than men. They simply don’t succeed at it as often as men do.

The reason for this is simple: men tend to choose more lethal methods of suicide than women. And that often means guns. Indeed, most gun deaths in the US are the result of suicide, not murder.

Could we reduce the number of suicides by making guns harder to get hold of? A new study in the American Journal of Public Health suggests the answer is yes.

Researchers Michael D. Anestis and Joye C. Anestis from the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg looked at the effect four different kinds of gun control legislation — waiting periods, universal background checks, gun locks, and open carrying regulations — had on suicide rates, finding that

[e]ach law was associated with significantly lower firearm suicide rates and the proportion of suicides resulting from firearms. In addition, each law, except for that which required a waiting period, was associated with a lower overall suicide rate. Follow-up analyses showed a significant indirect effect on overall suicide rates through the proportion of suicides by firearms, indicating that the reduced overall suicide rate was attributable to fewer suicide attempts, fewer handguns in the home, suicide attempts using less lethal means, or a combination of these factors. States that implemented any of these laws saw a decreased suicide rate in subsequent years, whereas the only state that repealed 1 of these laws saw an increased suicide rate.

This isn’t the only study suggesting that restricting access to firearms could dramatically lower suicide rates.

A 2013 study by researchers Justin Briggs and Alex Tabarrok at George Mason University found that in the United States from 2000 to 2009, each “percentage-point decrease in household gun ownership leads to between 0.5 and 0.9 percent fewer suicides.”

And the effect has been seen in other countries as well. Australia saw an 80 percent reduction in suicides by firearm after adopting stricter gun control laws and instituting a large-scale gun buyback program in the 1990s; there was no rise in suicides by other means.

This last finding may strike some as the most puzzling one. If someone is intent on killing themselves but no longer has a firearm in the house, wouldn’t they just attempt suicide in some other way? Surprisingly the answer is generally “no.”

As Briggs and Tabarrok noted in a Slate piece explaining their findings,

contrary to the “folk wisdom” that people who want to commit suicide will always find a way to get the job done, suicides are not inevitable. Suicides are often impulsive decisions, and guns require less forethought than other means of suicide—and they’re also deadlier.

MRAs who are serious about reducing the number of male suicides — not just using male suicide stats as a cheap debating point — need to start talking seriously about gun control.

Here’s a video from VOX with more information on the subject:

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Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
5 years ago

speaking out on the matter and not prettifying her words. (See what I did there?)

http://38.media.tumblr.com/fb5b46d2777cf48c9fa292bd56532b47/tumblr_nocvtpJAyR1u7h2ndo1_500.gif

Fruitloopsie
Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

:sigh: I just had an argument with this guy basically saying the reason why men kill themselves is because men are exhausted from trying to impress “feeeemales”. I told him that women are not responsible or obligated to date and have sex with anyone and there are other reasons why men commit suicide like addiction.

Yadda yadda yadda about other stuff we argued about and now I wait for his reply..tomorrow.

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

Fruitloopsie,
Even though he whined about the poor menz having to impress feeemales, I bet you anything he expects women to all be pretty and thin without a second thought as to whether keeping up with rigid yet constantly shifting beauty standards is detrimental to us.

Fruitloopsie
Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

WWTH
He didn’t say that but I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m just really ticked off that he totally ignores all other reasons why men commit suicide (addiction, rape/abuse victims, bulling, etc)

He even mansplained to me what patriarchy is and wants to change it “I don’t like that word becuase it makes women the victims and men the opressers don’t you know not all powerful leaders are men there were women leaders in history and not all businesses are filled with men? Men get hurt too, etc”

I told him that patriarchy is putting men above women (Majority in power and businesses, men are seen as strong heros, excusing them from their actions when it’s involved with women and girls, etc) it back fires on men “men are supposed to be strong so don’t seek help” patriarchy is not “men are bad and women are good” Etc

and he even mansplained the “mansplain” word itself. “I’m not mansplaining, mansplaining is a man talking about male issues” and I was like “did you just mansplained the word mansplain to me?” This guy was mansplaining he goes on and on about men do all the work in relationships and to impress everyone including “females” more than women and they want men who are successful. And I explained to him that is mansplaining you as a man explain what women want and go through to me a woman.

He also told me that I was misunderstanding him but no im replying to what he said and then suddenly acts like he never said that. Im going to YouTube to watch bunnies to cool me down.

katz
katz
5 years ago

I’ll save you a click.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
5 years ago

@Pandapool

I regret nothing.

mrex
mrex
5 years ago

@katz

“My gut feeling is that it wouldn’t put people off; it would just add self-loathing by making them feel like they’re mean and selfish for wanting to end their own lives, which would then feed back and make them feel like they deserve to live even less.”

Yeah, making people feel bad about *thinking* (and therefore talking) about suicide is harmful and foolish. However, making people feel guilty for *completing* suicide is a different beast. Lots of people are put off of completing suicide by feeling guilty about hurting their family.

A good example is pregnant woman: suicide rates sharply fall in pregnant women even as depression rates rise. No amount of suicidal ideation or depression will make someone commit suicide; suicide is *always* a *choice*, and many pregnant women find they can’t justify taking their unborn child with them.

@Tracey: Vets often have both the means of commiting suicide (ie. Guns) as well as knowledge of how to do it properly. (Ie. exactly where to cut or shoot to ensure death). They also are more likely to be desensitized to violence. Commiting suicide is a brutal act of violence, and for people who don’t have experience it can be hard to pull off. Which is part of the reason why some people will make multiple attempts before pulling it off.

@Alan

“I knew you’d say that”.

Exactly.

“Yeah, working out what’s cause and what’s effect isn’t always easy.”

Yeah. It’s even harder when you consider how complex a behavior like “impulsivity” is. 🙂

Fruitloopsie
Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

Katz
Aww you’re so sweet! Thanks! ????

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

comment image

Fruitloopsie
Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

WWTH
Sooo Cute! Thanks!

Fruitloopsie
Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

There’s this one other guy who was going on and on about male issues too then he demanded feminists to stop focusing on one gender/race and later a woman commented: “you mean like what you did?” And I was like:
http://s1050.photobucket.com/component/Download-File?file=%2Falbums%2Fs407%2FTheyCallMeG-92%2Ftumblr_m2r10gOdRn1qlrxk7o2_r1_500.gif

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
5 years ago

I regret nothing.

You should. You really, really should.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
5 years ago

Here’s a horrifying fact for you, Pandapool: I almost didn’t notice that I’d done it. Then I did, and decided to go with it anyway.

Here’s an even more horrifying one: it is by no means the most egregious wordplay I’ve ever committed.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
5 years ago

@Rabid Rabbit

I was actually more put off you figured you had to point it out. There’s no winners when puns having to be highlighted, especially when they aren’t the most congenial.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
5 years ago

Ah, I was figuring that poiting out I was aware just how bad it was would make up for how bad it was.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
5 years ago

@Rabid Rabbit

Only when followed by:

Huh? Huh? See what I did there?

I’ll see myself out.

Then no matter how horrible the pun is, it’s instantly funny.

katz
katz
5 years ago

Yeah, making people feel bad about *thinking* (and therefore talking) about suicide is harmful and foolish. However, making people feel guilty for *completing* suicide is a different beast. Lots of people are put off of completing suicide by feeling guilty about hurting their family.

A good example is pregnant woman: suicide rates sharply fall in pregnant women even as depression rates rise. No amount of suicidal ideation or depression will make someone commit suicide; suicide is *always* a *choice*, and many pregnant women find they can’t justify taking their unborn child with them.

Yeah, that makes sense. That was just my gut feeling, and you guys have posted a lot of good evidence to the contrary.

(Are we still on bunny videos?)

Fruitloopsie
Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

Katz
Send as many as you like! 🙂

mildlymagnificent
mildlymagnificent
5 years ago

katz

My gut feeling is that it wouldn’t put people off; it would just add self-loathing by making them feel like they’re mean and selfish for wanting to end their own lives, which would then feed back and make them feel like they deserve to live even less.

Do what all the news services here do routinely when reporting suicides (and some other things). They do it on radio and TV verbally – with subtitles on TV – and at the end of written reports on line and in the hard copy. They always always always give the phone numbers of Lifeline and Beyond Blue.

When it’s a report about child sexual abuse or domestic violence – lots of them at the moment because of the various public enquiries being conducted here – they also give the names and contact details for relevant organisations.

Terrabeau
Terrabeau
5 years ago

I remember a similar story about a bridge known for being a local suicide hotspot. The county decided to build suicide barriers, hoping to shove the problem over to other bridges outside of their area.

To their surprise, the suicide rate started dropping almost as soon as the barriers were installed, not just in their county, but in neighboring ones as well. There was no increase in suicides off other nearby bridges, nor by gun, knife, pills or any other way As it turns out, if people are denied their preferred method of committing suicide, they don’t find another way to do it anyway; rather, they reconsider their decision to kill themselves and often turn away from it.

In guns, the same principle applies. Guns are so disproportionately representative of suicides because, as the Vox video states, they’re extremely lethal, and are seen as a quick and painless way to die. This is exacerbated by the fact that suicide by gun is not restricted by time or location, making them ideal for an impulsive act like most suicides are.

Gun control laws prevent deaths in the same way the suicide barriers did, by taking away a suicidal person’s first choice of death. Like with the bridge, people who would otherwise be dead aren’t, because a simple obstacle in their way prevented them from making a terrible decision. While it’s certainly more effective in the long term to treat the reasons why people kill themselves in the first place, as band-aids go, gun control is a damn good one.

Jenny Wren
Jenny Wren
5 years ago

I’d just like to say that I like it when you tackle actual men’s issues and show the manosphere up at their own game, David. Because there are serious issues that affect men, but at the moment often the only people talking about them are these jerks. I’d love it if a male feminist started working on this stuff. Like what the Good Men Project should have been.

Hrb
Hrb
5 years ago

Funnily, many MRAs being sympathizers of the Conservative right advocate for guns. And then they say Feminists are the ones who don’t care about men…

This is a serious issue. There’s a reason why many European countries don’t suffer from the same gun control issues as the United States. It does seem ridiculous how easily you can buy them.

A Land Whale
A Land Whale
5 years ago

The one country with comparable evidence that isn’t a load of conjecture from random things that maybe might could possibly happen is Australia, where they used to have guns and then they completely took them away… Suicide did not go down at all… And increased in fact… Apparently hanging is all the rage there. :o/

AJ Butler
4 years ago

This is one of the more oblivious statements I’ve read in a while: “… men commit suicide far more often than women. But that’s not because men are many times more miserable than women …. [it’s because] men tend to choose more lethal methods of suicide than women.”

Why do you suppose men “choose more lethal methods of suicide than women”? They were just born way more efficient and effective than women? The key statistic is this; Men succeed at suicide TWELVE TIMES MORE OFTEN than women.

Do you think men are really, genetically, twelve times better at suicide than women? Really?

The truth is, when men try to kill themselves, they mean it. Because they are hopeless and miserable. When women try to kill themselves, they use “less lethal” options BECAUSE THEY DON’T REALLY WANT TO DIE.

Most female suicide “attempts” are string-pulling. They are seeking a reaction from the world. Because they know the world will react well. Because weak women aren’t repulsive to men. Because weak women need “rescuing,” damsels in distress need “saving.”

Men choose “more lethal” means of suicide because men can’t “cry for help.” Nobody listens. Thus, men ARE “many times more miserable than women.” And this article’s myopic, women-protecting, men-ignoring perspective is a great illustration of why.