A New York Times opinion piece today gives another perspective on gun violence prevention. In an earlier post, I had focused on the public health approach to reducing gun violence through targeting mass shootings. Although mass shootings occur more than once daily in this country, the rate of gun-related suicide is far higher: about 20,000 suicides by gun per year, or about ⅔ of all people killed by guns.
A common argument about restricting access to firearms for people with suicide risk is that there’s no point to locking up a home’s firearms because people in crisis or with suicidal impulses will find some way to get a gun, or will just find another way to kill themselves. In reality, most suicides are often impulsive, meaning that there’s a very short time between the decision and the action, and 90 percent of people who survive suicide attempts do not eventually die by suicide.