While I suppose one shouldn’t expect impartiality from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, let’s look at the real numbers and quit playing games.
The use of firearms in suicides has declined. In 2017, firearms were used in just over 50% of suicides. That’s down from 55% at the beginning of the 21st Century. Over the same period, the use of guns in male suicides has dropped from 60% to 56%.
But the number of men killing themselves soared 49.1% and the suicide rate per 100,000 jumped 30%.
What is even more alarming, and even more often ignored, is that the number of women choosing to end their own lives has skyrocketed 75% and the rate has increased by more than 53%.
Yet guns are used in less than a third of female suicides. Poisoning, which has been the leading method of suicides among women, has seen a decline in the percentage of suicides, as have guns. But the rate of suicides by suffocation, usually by hanging, has jumped nearly 158%.
The roundtable mentioned Connecticut as a glowing example of the use of red flag laws. Let’s look at California, the largest state by population, which has even more gun laws than Connecticut.
California has a lower suicide rate than the national average. It also has a lower percentage of suicides by firearm. California began adopting an increasing number of restrictions on firearms in 1999 and hasn’t looked back. The state enacted red flag laws in 2014.
From 1999 to 2017, the percentage of suicides by firearm dropped from 50% to just over 37%. But the suicide rate increased nearly 19%. The rate of suicides by hanging soared 110%.
Let’s put it more bluntly: In 2017, 1,610 Californians ended their lives with a gun; 2,702 used another method. 1,442 of them hanged themselves.
The red flag laws? From 2014 to 2017, the suicide rate rose 0.2%. The rate of suicides involving a gun dropped 0.4%; poisonings were down by 15%. Suicides by hanging? That rate rose 3.5%.
Let’s take a closer look at Connecticut, too. The Nutmeg State has always had a lower suicide rate than the national average. It enacted red flag laws in 1999. The rate of suicides by firearm has dropped an impressive 7.3%. Yay! But the rate of suicides by other methods has risen more than 71%. Not-So-Yay; perhaps even Boo!
Connecticut’s suicide rate rose nearly 40% from 1999 to 2017.
Incidentally all of these numbers come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Fatal Injury Reports from 1999 to 2017. I used only the Fatal Injury Report because that data is based on death certificates. The Non-Fatal Injury Reports are based on estimates and their accuracy has been called into question.
What they tell us is that this focus on gun control and red flag laws is not only stupid but heartless. Like it or not, people seriously intent on ending their own lives will find a way to do it. But apparently we don’t care about them. They’re not the cause du jour.
It’s positively sickening.