Full width home advertisement

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Gun suicide is overwhelming US rural districts in west and south, report says

Gun suicide is overwhelming US rural districts in west and south, report says
In 11 congressional districts more than 100 residents each year use guns to end their lives – roughly double the national average
‘Nationally, nearly half of suicides involve a firearm. But this congressional district research shows that the national average masks enormous differences between districts,’ Everytown report explains.

‘Nationally, nearly half of suicides involve a firearm. But this congressional district research shows that the national average masks enormous differences between districts,’ Everytown report explains. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images


Almost 23,000 people die annually by gun suicide in the United States, tragedies that are overwhelming some rural congressional districts clustered in the nation’s west and south, according to new research from the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund.
A dearth of mental health resources, shifting economic realities and widespread gun ownership factor in the devastating and disproportionate local death tolls around the country.

“Nationally, nearly half of suicides involve a firearm. But this congressional district research shows that the national average masks enormous differences between districts,” the Everytown report explains.
Meanwhile, experts fear as many as 7,000 additional lives could be lost to gun suicide during 2020 alone as Americans eye new firearm purchases amid a deeply felt economic recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s a toxic combination,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, director of research at the Everytown Support Fund.

But long before the first Covid-19 infection, a nationwide gun crisis still ravaged Americans: the firearm suicide rate has climbed
 a staggering 19% in recent years.For months, more than a third of American adults have experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression, and phones at crisis helplines have been ringing off the hook with callers worried about their mental health, including suicidal ideation.
By showing constituents how their own neighbors are affected, Everytown’s breakdown of data from all 435 congressional districts plus Washington DC “brings home those observations that at the national level may not feel compelling”, said Deborah Azrael, director of research for the Harvard injury control research center at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
For residents and policymakers in the 20 hardest-hit districts, all in the southern and western US, the analysis represents a rude awakening around chronically bad firearm suicide rates. In 11 districts across Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee, more than 100 residents each year use guns to end their lives – roughly double the national average.
By contrast, 17 congressional districts in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and DC experience 10 or fewer firearm suicides annually. All three states and the US capital have enacted “red flag laws”, a way for family members, law enforcement or other interested parties to petition a court for someone’s firearms to be temporarily confiscated if they present a danger to themselves or others.
Most states in the north-east have much lower gun ownership rates than elsewhere in the country and boast “strong laws” around firearm acquisition, Burd-Sharps said. But even in regions where guns prove more popular, families who store their firearms safely experience lower firearm suicide rates.
“It’s both less access to guns in crisis and very rigorous attention to gun storage practices that disrupt access to people in crisis,” she said. “Policies do matter, and one reason to do things by congressional district is to hold the elected official … accountable [for] supporting these policies.”
Almost half of white men and 46% of adults in rural areas own guns, the Pew Research Center reports, demographics that largely overlap with the people most vulnerable to firearm suicide. Although women are more likely to try to kill themselves generally, men and boys comprise 86% of all gun suicides.
Native American and Alaska Native communities are also particularly susceptible, a trend Burd-Sharps attributed to the challenges of rurality, a lack of culturally competent care, and intergenerational trauma from historically high rates of suicide.
So-called deaths of despair – fatalities from suicide, opioids or alcoholism – have plagued working-class Americans for decades as their economic prospects plunge amid a radically evolving employment landscape, even absent the virus-prompted economic downturn. Men also struggle with the social stigma and logistical hurdles to seeking emotional or mental help, especially in rural America.
During the pandemic, surging gun sales between March and August pumped an estimated 11.8m more firearms into the US’s arsenal, which was already bloated with approximately 393m civilian-held guns.
“What we know is that where there are more guns, more people die by suicide. And the reason more people die by suicide is that more people die by firearm suicide,” Azrael said.
About 90% of suicide attempts using guns prove lethal, compared with 4% where firearms are not involved. In households with access to a gun, everyone incurs triple the risk of death by suicide, according to Everytown.
“One of the most effective things you can do to help people in crisis,” Burd-Sharps said, “is to keep a gun out of their hand.”

A year ago …

Amid all the crises we’ve faced in 2020, we must continue to recognise the climate crisis as the defining emergency of our times, and give it the sustained attention and prominence it demands. No matter what events unfold, we will not sideline it. Did you know you’ve read 
 in the last year?

In these chaotic, perilous times, an independent, truth-seeking news organisation like the Guardian is essential. We have no shareholders or billionaire owner, meaning our journalism is free from bias and vested interests – this makes us different. Our independence and autonomy allows us to provide fearless investigations and analysis of those with political and commercial power.
We believe quality, trustworthy reporting like this on the environment is an important tool with which to confront the climate emergency. That’s why we provide journalism that reflects the urgency of the crisis, and is always led by science and truth. And we keep it open and free for everyone to read, so more people can be better informed, and inspired to take action.
Our open, independent reporting on the environment is read by millions every day, from all corners of the globe. Thousands of you support us financially after reading these pieces, telling us that you too care deeply about the future of the planet, wildlife and humanity.
If there were ever a time to join us, it is now. Your support funds our work financially, and motivates us to do better, investigate deeper, challenge more. You protect our independence for the long term, and ensure we can remain open for all to read.
Today we’d like to ask you to show your support for Guardian journalism. Every contribution, however big or small, makes a real difference for our future.

No comments:

Post a comment

Bottom Ad [Post Page]