Stigma And Myth Getting In The Way Of Tackling US Gun Suicides: Here’s What Could Help
The United States recorded a total of 27,000 gun suicides last year, or 73 people dying every day. The majority of the country’s gun deaths are suicides, not homicides – a central fact that has still been receiving little attention despite years of intense debate over gun violence.
Experts say stigma and myth are still getting in the way of preventing the fatalities. A brief conversation between The Guardian and Paul Nestadt, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, has shined the light on guns and mental health.
Ways To Approach Suicide Prevention With Firearms
When asked about some misconceptions about guns and suicide, Nestadt said there is this myth that suicide is this carefully considered thing. He called it impulsive, highlighting the vast majority of people came to their decision about suicide and attempted it the same day.
People tend to use what they have available. Since firearms have a 90% fatality rate, having them in the house triples the risk of suicide, Nestadt noted. He further went on to elaborate on some ways to approach suicide prevention with firearms.
If someone in the house has a substance use issue or is experiencing depression, the gun might temporarily be stored outside the house. If there is a kid and there must be a gun, it needs to be stored at a safe place, locking it up with ammunition stored separately.
When asked about what might be responsible for the increase in gun suicide rates in the United States, Nestadt said: “I think the simplest answer is: there are more guns in the country now.” In fact, firearm sales were record-breaking all through 2020 and 2021.
Mental Health And Gun Violence: Exploring Connection
In the end, he noted the significant role mental health plays in guns suicide. He said most gun deaths are actually suicides, and that about 90% of people who die by suicide have some form of mental illness that contributed to the fatality.
About 1% to 5% of people experiencing depression per year will die by suicide. The figure rises to 10% among people with schizophrenia. Those with anorexia or other eating disorders as well as dementia and Parkinson’s also have high suicide rates.