I think if gender were arbitrary to suicide, then there wouldn’t be such a tremendous disparity in it.
Personally, I think presumption that <something> shouldn’t vary by gender can sometimes be an ideological trap, that does a disservice to both genders. We could talk about why men have three times the suicide rate that women do, as if there was something men needed help with, and that might be true. Or we could talk about how women have a third the suicide rate that men do, as if perhaps there’s something to be learned from their lower rate. Either of those approaches might be helpful, and might save lives, but if we don’t research it out of an obligation to an arbitrary ethos, we do everyone, men and women, a disservice. And this is a field where people are literally dying, by the very definition of the field. Any disservice in this area is bad.
Maybe there’s also a difference between the gun suicide rates of older and younger people, people of different races/ethnicities, etc.
I have not looked into the race/ethnicity numbers at all. If you know of a study on this, please let me know. I have looked at the rates of overall suicide among men and women, men in particular, and what I found was surprising. The rates are relatively even across age bands. I thought I would see a preponderance of younger men, adolescents suffering from depression and having a hard time finding their place in the world, but that’s not what the numbers showed. They’re really pretty spread out. I think there may be a lot we can learn from that, but I’m not a sociologist so I don’t know for sure what that would be.
I’m not arguing for gun confiscation (and I doubt that many depressed men would voluntarily give up their guns at their doctors’ suggestion).
Gun confiscation doesn’t work, numerically speaking, in the USA. It’s not an argument anyone should bother with, purely because of the math. I wrote another article on that. The numbers simply make it impossible. But I’m not so sure that depressed men wouldn’t give up their firearms temporarily. Certainly some men simply think that depression is yet one more burden to bear, and don’t seek treatment for it. I think many men probably have a problem here. But if a man does seek treatment for depression, I think a healthy understanding of the risks might lead them to entrust their firearms with a loved one until they get themselves sorted out. I think the level of “awareness” on this is basically zero. I know I wasn’t aware of it at all before I started writing these gun policy articles. And this specific thing, that 7/8ths of firearm suicide are men, and that male suicide rate does track with firearm ownership rate, was the most alarming thing I ran across. It’s a huge portion of total gun deaths. Here’s an excerpt from another one of the articles in the series:
Pretend you are tasked with drinking one beer per death in the United States, and each beer you drink is a different flavor based on how that person died. “School Shooting” is obviously milk stout, because why not. You started drinking right now, one beer per dead person, one hour per beer, twelve hours per day, with no vacation and no breaks. You would have to drink beer for almost 60 years straight before you drank your first milk stout, by averages.
“You’re cheating, Mr. Author sir, you included all deaths, not just firearm deaths.”OK. If we limit it purely to gun deaths, you’d drink twelve beers per day for about eight and a half months before you drank your first milk stout. Pretending gun suicides are Pabst Blue Ribbon, you’d be drinking eight of those a day.
Let’s add an addendum. Seven of those eight Pabst Blue Ribbons would be dead men.
Suicide is the #1 problem we need to be talking about, by a very very wide margin. The secondary problem is the young black male homicide victimization rate, which is off the charts higher than all other demographics.
The link between gun suicides, gun homicides, and unintentional shootings is…guns. That doesn’t mean that one policy solution would reduce all of those numbers. But different types of initiatives — gun safety education, common sense gun reforms, mental health initiatives — can reduce gun deaths overall. I agree that the case for gun reform is sometimes made sloppily. But that doesn’t mean that those reforms wouldn’t reduce gun deaths.
You may be interested in reading the rest of the series. Be warned: it is not at all kind to the left of center media’s approach, which amounts to a giant bait and switch once you look deeply at the numbers behind gun deaths. But the “solutions” presented in the series, around six articles in, you might actually find appealing. And they’re numbers driven.
I think the left largely presents solutions that don’t work, because they’re not properly identifying the problems, or they’re focused on the wrong stuff. I think the best path to good policy is to focus on the right stuff, which you can only see in the statistics, not the media coverage. The media is doing a terrible job of representing the facts, because they’re chasing the outrage. Outrage sells.
This is an index of the series if you’re interested. If you’re not, that’s fine too. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.
May Housekeeping, Cancer, and Hootie on a Bike
I think a lot, and I write things down. I spend too much time on Facebook, and the things I write there are often far…
I just popped over and read your Yanny/Laurel article, and based on the material in there, you may find article #7 in the series very interesting, which was about the profit drivers in media to exacerbate culture wars.