suicide Guns raise the likelihood of violence

Posted on Jan. 31, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

Firearms account for 50 percent of all suicides. Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness at the time of their death.

Most gun owners reportedly keep firearms in the home for protection or self defense. Eighty three percent of gun-related deaths in these homes are the result of a suicide, often by someone other than the gun owner.

Firearms are used in more suicides than homicides.

Here is my point: Had the mother of the Newtown, Conn., shooter removed her firearms from the home they shared, there might not have been a tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary. This is speculation. What is not speculation is that when access to lethal means — in this case firearms — is removed from the home of a person experiencing mental illness, the chances of that person harming himself/herself is drastically reduced.

When people recognize that a family member, neighbor, co-worker, or a friend is experiencing a mental health issue, the first thing to do is assist this person in getting appropriate treatment. The second is to remove or securely lock up any firearms in their home.

A person living outside the gun owner’s home can visit his/her home and use one of their firearms to end his/her life just a easily as a person living in the household. Remove or keep guns in a locked gun case or use gun locks to prevent people from using them to end their life or the lives of others.

Had the mother of the Newtown shooter realized that her son’s mental health issues could possibly lead to a suicide attempt or a violent act of destruction, she could have removed her firearms and therefore her son’s access to them. Maybe the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School could have been avoided.

Jim Starkey


Elkhart County Suicide Prevention Coalition

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