Gun debate should focus conversation on suicide [Opinion]

Gun debate should focus conversation on suicide [Opinion]

America’s gun conversation has been caught in a loop for the last 20 years. Slaughter is followed by the same polarizing arguments, the status quo never changes, and more than 38,000 people per year are killed with firearms. No community is immune to these horrors, and right now the greater Houston area has the unenviable role of national focal point as we process what happened at Santa Fe High School. There is a way to dramatically reduce the burden of gun violence in America, however, and it involves claiming a rare piece of middle ground on which both gun rights and gun control advocates can come together. It also involves tackling the element of gun violence which, paradoxically, claims the most lives and yet gets the least amount of attention: suicide. Usually dismissed as an act of personal volition that no policy could stop, suicide by firearm is eminently preventable in ways that do nothing to infringe on the Second Amendment. These methods do not ignore the mental health difficulties likely driving the desire to die. They instead recognize that household environment matters, particularly when that environment includes an item so uniquely prone to permanent decisions as a firearm. While intentional drug overdose is the most common suicide attempt method, only 2-3 percent of such attempts are fatal because of uncertainties of dosage and the chances of bodily rejection. The probabilities are essentially reversed with firearms, as 85-95 percent of suicide attempts involving a firearm result in death. This […]

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