In an article for The Huffington Post, Evan DeFilippis, writer and data analyst for the website ArmedWithReason.com, reaffirms the need for means reduction as the most important suicide-prevention strategy.
DeFilippis recalls a famous study challenging the notion that people intent on committing suicide will inevitably do so—an idea that has kept policymakers from allowing the construction of an anti-suicide barrier around the Golden Gate Bridge, which has become one of the most popular suicide hotspots in the world. The study tracked 515 people who were prevented from committing suicide by jumping from the bridge:
“90 percent of people who were prevented from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge did not go on to commit suicide. The findings support the idea that suicides are often ‘crisis-oriented’ in nature, and that failed attempts often lead to a renewed commitment to living.”
Gun-rights advocates who, in challenging firearms regulation, insist that suicide is a foregone conclusion, are supporting an incorrect—and dangerous—idea. Multiple studies have shown that most suicides could be considered “impulsive,” meaning there is little preparation before the attempt.
According to the CDC, more people kill themselves with guns than all other methods combined. In addition, “every single case-control study done in the United States has found the presence of a firearm is a strong risk factor for suicide. (That’s 24 separate studies.)”
In explaining why we need to include suicide in debates about gun control legislation, DiFilippis says it best: we need to reconsider our priorities.
“Discussion about suicide should be at the forefront of gun control debates, yet it is often a footnote in meaningful policy discussion. This reflects poorly on our nation’s priorities — it shows a cruel insensitivity to the value of human life, and a miscalibrated sense of morality which says that change is only worth having if it benefits me,” he writes.