American Gun Lobby
As is often the case when I open my email and/or turn on my phone, on 27 Dec. 2017 I received several messages about the American gun lobby being responsible for suicide violence.
These messages were in response to a New York Times article citing the Gun Lobby as a main driver of suicide. My first (and uncharitable) thought was - no sh*t Sherlock. My second, FINALLY people who didn't used to notice are noticing - YAAAAAYYY!!!! Awareness is the first step to advocacy. Yes. Third was Uff... I hope this is the turning point. I hope hope hope.
BTW - before I continue with this post, I want to point out that the NYT ignored responsible reporting guidelines by describing method in the very first sentence. Media is also complicit in suicide contagion, but that's another topic.
Moving on, the gun lobby problem is widely acknowledged in advocacy circles. If you own guns, please take the AFSP training cited below. I can't tell you how many times someone has asked what to do about their guns when they have had a suffering person in their home. LOCK UP THE DANG GUNS AND KEEP THE KEY FOR AT LEAST SIX WEEKS!
You'd think that the gov't would care about the loss of life, but the truth is that everyone is afraid of suicide. The only reason the government is looking at it so closely nowadays is that it's so expensive. Truth!
The CDC gives nearly $60,000,000,000.00 as the annual national cost of suicide death. Sixty freaking BILLION DOLLARS! Add to this the fact that the attempt rate also costs an obscene amount of money - figure 20X that of death [conservatively] - wow. Just wow. The gun lobby is costing the USA lives... AND, though this sounds harsh in comparison with the tragedy of suicide death, a lot of our hard earned tax money.
Where this conversation becomes convoluted is when the distinction between murder and suicide is never mentioned. Police One cites several reasons for murder by gun, and few of them are mental health related. That's because society is stupidly afraid of "crazy" people, when it's VIOLENT people who murder others.
Mental Illness does NOT cause violence against others. VIOLENT PEOPLE are at fault.
The public health conversation about self-inflicted harm and death is where cancer discussions were in the 1950s, and AIDS discussions were in the 1980s. People are remaining determinedly ignorant because the are afraid. Period. If you are afraid of suicide education, stop it right now. Take QPR online. It's only $30 for pity's sake. It is not rocket science.
Here's the best free class I've ever taken. Take it. It's free.
The reason I focus my efforts on POSTvention is that POSTvention focuses on the segments of society most at risk. Just like post-cancer care focuses on cancer survivors, postvention focuses on loss and attempt survivors.
The vast majority of American Coroners' Associations cite both firearms and alcohol as main indicators of death risk, though people outside the advocacy world tend not to listen to them. All anyone need do is go to any local coroner's webpage, and the numbers are right there.
Added to this is attempt survival data being collected by some public health departments, hospitals, universities... you get the idea. Imagine if we asked attempt survivors what keeps them alive. Again, another topic.
Before I quit typing, I'll put in a few more resources. The American Medical Association has been recommending education in harm reduction for DECADES, but they are constantly shouted down by the pro-gun at all costs people. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a firearm recommendations program that EVERYONE who owns firearms should take immediately. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the American Association of Suicidology all publish guidelines and recommendations.
Does anyone outside of post/prevention read them? I hope so.
Hopefully the tone of this blog is not too grouchy. I do feel grouchy though. I hate suicide.