Monday, February 4, 2013

Guns and Suicide

I had to share this as soon as I read it - this is an EXCELLENT post on an incredibly important issue for Alaska Native people... and just people in general. Suicide, but particularly suicide and guns.

Warren Jones wrote the piece, and the voice of an Alaska Native man is exactly who we need to hear from on this issue. Not only do Alaska Native people have the distinction of the having the highest rate of suicide in the country, but Alaska Native men succeed in killing themselves at an even higher rate.

So why are our Native men killing themselves?

What is interesting about Warren's post is that he examines the logistical side of that question I've heard for so long - Why are our Native men succeeding in killing themselves?

In this moment of gun control debate, it is important to look at what the evidence says. Warren points to a New York Times article to highlight his own experience:

Anderson points out that guns only account for 1% of all suicide attempts in America. What is different about them is the extremely high success rate for suicide by firearm, which translates into firearms being a key component in suicide completion. That 54% of suicide completions are with a firearm while only accounting for 1% of the attempts is a staggering number.

I hope this national gun debate includes discussions around the topic of suicide, and not just an ideological stance. As an advocate for subsistence, I've never been "anti-gun." But when we get caught up in thinking everything about guns has to be entirely good or entirely bad, we lose out on real solutions to major problems.

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