7 Firearms and Suicide

К оглавлению
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 
68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 
85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 
102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 

While much attention surrounding the debate over firearms has focused

on criminal violence in general, and homicide in particular,

suicide is the most common cause of firearm-related death in the

United States (National Center for Health Statistics, 2003; see Table 3-

3). Do guns increase the lethality or frequency of suicide attempts? A

large body of literature links the availability of firearms to the fraction

of suicides committed with a gun. Yet, a central policy question is

whether changes in the availability of firearms lead to changes in the

overall risk of suicide.

Despite the clear associations between firearms and gun suicide,

answering this broader question is difficult. Box 7-1 sketches out a

conceptual framework describing various mechanisms by which firearms

may be associated with rates of suicide. The fundamental issue is

the degree to which a suicidal person would simply switch to using other

methods if firearms were less available. On one hand, if substitutes were

easily enough available, then gun restrictions might change the typical

method of suicide yet have no effect on the overall risk of suicide at all.

On the other hand, there are at least two mechanisms by which guns

might directly cause an increase in the risk of completed suicide. First,

guns may provide a uniquely efficient method of self-destruction so that

access to a gun could lead to a higher rate of completed suicide. It is

often stated, for example, that easy access to firearms could increase the

rate of completed suicide among persons with transient suicidal feelings

because such access might increase the likelihood of an attempt with a

lethal outcome. Second, the induction hypothesis proposes that the leFIREARMS

thality of a gun might itself increase the likelihood of a suicide attempt

among gun owners: persons who would prefer the efficiency of a gun

would be less likely to make an attempt if a gun were not available.

Ultimately, it is an empirical question whether access restrictions lead to

substantial reductions in the rates of suicide.

BOX 7-1