Female suicide and firearms

Female suicide and firearms

From Olive Kitterigde, Elizabeth Strout

By Luciana Rosa, Aug. 2020

"Unusual for a woman to use a gun [to commit suicide]", Mr.s Kitteridge said, musingly. [...]
"Well, my mother was an unusual woman", he said, grimly.
"Yes," Mrs. Kitteridge said. "She Was".

"Firearms were often used in male (58.1%) and female (31.2%) suicides.", this is from a study supported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and use data from USA from 2003 to 2006 (link below).

More than 30% is actually not a small number, but it is correct to say it is more usual for men than for women to use a gun to commit suicide. It is what I thought when I read this passage in the book, but since I am curious I decided to find out more.

I am not American so the easy access and high availability of firearms is something I have a problem with. Indeed the study showed that there are more cases of suicide by firearms in regions where they are more available (duh), especially in rural areas. Other factors for male decedents who used firearms are being older than 65, veteran, with history of alcohol abuse and personal crisis.

For female decedents the other factors for using firearms are: being between 40 to 60 years old, married, white, veteran, suffer from depression, having lost someone close and having relationship problems.

This is not a small problem: More than 24.000 Americans commit suicide by firearms every year. And suicide by gun is one of the most successful methods: from all suicide attempts without the use of firearms, only 4% result in death. From all suicide attempts with a firearm, 90% result in death. Since a vast majority of people who attempted suicide and failed do not die from suicide, preventing firearm suicide would drastically reduce suicide deaths.

"A new study found that men who owned handguns were eight times more likely to die of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and women who owned handguns were more than 35 times more likely to kill themselves with a gun.", from Stanford Medicine News Center. It is crazy! I didn't find the explanation for it but I guess that women don't have that many other reasons to buy a gun.

In general, women attempt suicide more then men, but the methods they use are less lethal than firearms, such as pharmacological drugs overdose, exsanguination and jumping out of a cliff or bridge.

So ladies, remember, stay away from guns if you don't want to die from it.

“Had they known at these moments to be quite joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.”

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout