Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why Gun Control Has No Effect On Suicide Rates

Why Dr. Vivek Murthy, Pres. Obama's Surgeon General Nominee, Is Lying or Incompetent

Dr. Vivek Murthy (via tweet): "18,000 annual gun suicides. 80% suicide success with guns, 2% without. Most survivors never reattempt."

Dr. Murthy is wrong - furthermore, he either knows that the above statement is false, or he is too incompetent to know that it is wrong.  In either case, he is not qualified to be Attorney General.

Unlike this doctor, I have actually worked in field of EMS.  I was called to literally thousands of "suicide attempts".  I saw this problem up close, virtually every day, for a decade.  I put that in quotes because the vast majority of people who supposedly attempt suicide DO NOT INTEND TO ACTUALLY DO SO.  They are simply acting out to manipulate others (most common) or as a cry for help.  When I was working, the stats I saw indicated that this was the case in over 98% of females "attempting suicide" and about 75% of males - and my experience bears this out.  These people do not want to "succeed" so they use a method that kills slowly and can be reversed.  They do not use a gun, jump from a building or step in front of a bus - because they would actually die!  (Understand: I believe these people do need help!)  By the way, these people "reattempt" many, many times.

Those who actually want to die are much more likely to use a firearm, jump from a building. slash a major blood vessel, or simply step in front of a bus or train.  They may take a quick acting drug or poison and hide without telling anyone.  They may drown themselves or use another method.  They usually "succeed" because they actually want to die.

The doctor commingles these two very different groups in order to achieve the goal of promoting gun control.  Of course, if firearms are a huge factor, than we should see a lower suicide rate in nations where they are not available.  As one might expect, this is not the case.

The countries listed below (except the US) have virtual or actual bans on civilians owning guns.  The US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world.  The suicide rate is expressed in the number per 100,000 of the population.

South Korea (Actual ban), China (Actual ban), Japan (Virtual ban), Russia (Virtual ban), Taiwan (Virtual ban), 
United States (Highest gun ownership rate in the world)

Two things are clear:

1) Removing guns does not prevent or limit suicides, it only changes the method.  If it helped, than we would see a lower rate in nations where they are not available. Dr. Murthy is wrong.

2) Cultural and social factors likely are much larger factors that the availability of any one method of suicide.  Two factors seem to dominate the nations with the highest suicide rates: Oriental culture and/or a high rate of alcohol abuse. Looking at the highest rates of suicide on  this chart, all but one of the 13 nations with the highest rates of suicide are either oriental or part of the former Soviet Union or it's satellites - which are well known for having very high rates of alcohol abuse.

Looking at more of an apples to apples comparison, let's compare the US, Canada (more gun control but still lots of guns) and the UK (very low gun ownership rate, very strict gun control):

So, above we see three nations that are culturally similar, but with very different gun laws ranging from relatively permissive (the US) to a ban on all handguns and very strict controls on other guns (the UK).  The suicide rate in all three nations is virtually identical (within 4% of each other).  Again, gun laws have absolutely no effect at all.  More proof that Dr. Murthy is wrong.

This is very basic research and very basic facts.  The doctor surely knows them very well.  The fact that he is willing to prostitute his medical credentials in order to advance his political goals disqualifies him for the office to which he is nominated.

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