Idaho Shooting – A Preventable Tragedy

veronica-jean-rutledgeby Tia Will

While reading the Vanguard this afternoon one suggestion by a poster caught my eye. The suggestion was to provide proposed solutions instead of just describing problems that we see. It is in this spirit that I wish to approach another article that caught my eye. This involves the accidental shooting of a 29 year-old mother by her two year-old son.

According to the article in The Guardian, the woman, a nuclear scientist was fatally injured by her two year old who found her handgun in a zipper section of her new purse, specially designed for hidden carry, given to her by her husband for Christmas .

The mayor of Blackfoot, where this incident occurred said: “My expectation whenever I meet somebody on the street is they might be packing, but that doesn’t cause me to pause or be concerned for me or the safety of our citizens.”

It would appear that it should be cause for such pause, and yet it does not seem to have occurred to her family members, or the mayor that had she not been “packing” she would still be alive today. Had she not made the erroneous assumption that she and her child were safer with the gun than without it, she would still be alive.

According to investigating Lieutenant Stu Miller “All the precautionary measures weren’t taken to ensure the safety of that weapon.”

Despite Miller’s comment, the Rutledges were reportedly experienced gun owners and shooters. Rutledge had a concealed carry permit, police said. She loved to hunt, shoot and camp, friends and family told the Washington Post.

This unfortunately seems to be all too frequently the case in episodes of accidental shootings. The owners of the guns that somehow come into the hands of a child are most often legal owners of the guns. They are frequently very experienced with the handling and use of the weapons themselves. It seems that this gives them the confidence that they know what they are doing and that their children will always adhere to their admonitions about not playing with or handling their weapons. I know this first hand because my father made the assumption that because he told us not to touch his rifles, that we never would. He was wrong. I frequently took down his rifle and pretending to be aiming or shooting it long before I was old enough to understand what death meant. According to a recent study, this would seem to be a common pattern, not an aberration.

http://everytown.org/documents/2014/10/innocents-lost.pdf

Within the past year we have seen many bad outcomes that are, in part, a product of the culture of normalization of gun ownership and carrying guns in public places. We have seen shootings, both deliberate and accidental. Within our own community our police have expressed fear about doing their jobs in a society portrayed as awash with illegally owned weapons.

I want to be very clear. I am not against the responsible ownership of guns. My father was a hunter. I was being trained to shoot at the time of his death. However, I do not consider the carrying of a gun in a location accessible to a two year old “responsible”. I do not consider having a gun within the reach of a child whether in one’s home, car, or on one’s person responsible. As the article above points out, there are very few states that hold adults accountable for accidental shootings, even those resulting in death, in which it is their gun that has been accessed by a child. The exception seems to be for “gross negligence.” I fail to see how allowing an armed weapon within reach of a child anything other than gross negligence.

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My suggestions for how to lessen the possibility of such tragedies do not include bans. They do not include taking away the guns of anyone owning them legally and responsibly. They do include:

  1. Mandatory use of gun locking devices and inclusions of gun safes with gun purchases.
  2. Adoption of safety technologies including chamber load indicators, magazine disconnect mechanisms and “smart guns” which use various means to allow the gun to be fired by only the owner.
  3. Stronger laws pertaining to the negligent storage of weapons resulting in injury and/or death.
  4. Increased funding for research in prevention of accidental shootings. A public health approach has proven useful in decreasing child deaths in automobile accidents and preventing closed head injuries by requiring the use of helmets by children riding bikes. There is clear precedent for the utility of studying best practices to reduce accidental deaths and yet we have not chosen to apply this to firearms accidents.
  5. We should encourage, not deter doctors from discussing gun safety with children and parents just the same as we expect that they will discuss prevention of accidental poisoning or appropriate use of car restraints.

Too often, discussions of gun safety are falsely cloaked in a fear that what is being proposed is “taking away our guns” or an “infringement of our constitutional rights.”

Rather, I advocate for a fresh look at how to prevent the tragedy of a two year-old accidentally killing his mother in a totally preventable accident based on several false assumptions that seem to be widespread in our culture.

  • First myth: Only people who are not skilled in handling arms are at risk.
  • Second myth: Guns are only dangerous in the hands of criminals. This opinion was expressed at the public forum on the MRAP. The false fear of disarmament should not be invoked to block sensible means of the prevention of accidental deaths nor should it be used to block research into best practices.

About The Author

Tia is a graduate of UCDMC and long time resident of Davis who raised her two now adult children here. She is a local obstetrician gynecologist with special interests in preventive medicine and public health and safety. All articles and posts written by Tia are reflective only of her own opinions and are in no way a reflection of the opinions of her partners or her employer.

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201 Comments

  1. South of Davis

    Tia wrote:

    > Mandatory use of gun locking device

    > and inclusions of gun safes with gun

    > purchases.

    We already have mandatory gun locks that come with all new guns sold.  How will making a future Darwin Award winner that didn’t use the lock that came with her gun that leaves a loaded gun in arms reach of a kid any safer if you force everyone to buy a gun safe?

    > Stronger laws pertaining to the negligent

    > storage of weapons resulting in injury

    > and/or death.

    Great idea we can also send everyone that uses a gun in a crime to jail for life.

    > requiring the use of helmets by

    > children riding bikes.

    Do you want kids to wear bullet proof vests (in addition to their helmets)?

    > We should encourage, not deter doctors

    > from discussing gun safety

    The number of kids killed by guns is so low why not have MDs so talk about chainsaw safety?  A few years back bikes and roller skates were the top killers of kids.  should MDs also teach bike and roller skate safety?

    1. Barack Palin

      The number of kids killed by guns is so low why not have MDs so talk about chainsaw safety?  A few years back bikes and roller skates were the top killers of kids.  should MDs also teach bike and roller skate safety?

      Good point SOD.  There are many things that would fall in the unsafe category.  Should I expect my MD to give me a crash course on automobile driving safety?

      1. Robert Canning

        BP and SOD:

        This point about bikes vs. gun deaths/injuries comes up a lot. The reason to counsel about gun safety in the primary care office is one of lethality. Bike accidents are a lot less lethal than guns. Lets look at the data from the CDC on fatal vs. non-fatal injury from 2001-2012 for individuals 0-24 years of age. In that period there were 4,043,972 bike accidents. Of those 2,433 were fatal, for a ratio of 0.0006 fatal to non-fatal. In the same time period there were 89,060 gun injuries, of which 2,746 were fatal for a ratio of .03. In plain English, gun accidents are 50 times as lethal as bike accidents. That’s why there should be counseling. (And about automobile accidents – for the same period and age group there were 12,243,366 accidents of which 60,084 were fatal – an even smaller ratio of fatal to non-fatal than for bikes.) You can always look up the data for these sorts of accidents and fatalities at WISQARS, the CDC’s interactive website for injury data.

    2. Biddlin

      “a future Darwin Award winner”

      She was a 2010 graduate of the University of Idaho, in Chemistry with a promising career at Idaho National Laboratory.

      She had recently published a paper analysing a method  to absorb toxic waste from burning nuclear material.

      She and her husband were lifelong shooters. He had given her the special purse to carry the firearm, so it wasn’t just sitting next to her in the car’s seat as she drove and went about her routine.

      Here is a good link

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/12/31/the-inside-story-of-how-an-idaho-toddler-shot-his-mom-at-wal-mart/

      ;>)/

      1. South of Davis

        Biddlin wrote:

        > She was a 2010 graduate of the University of Idaho, in Chemistry

        > with a promising career at Idaho National Laboratory.

        I’m sure all of us living in Davis have met more than one “more” intelligent than average person with “less” than average common sense…

    3. TrueBlueDevil

      I’d think it might do far better for doctors to talk to children and parents about the negative consequences to being a gang member. That would probably do far more good.

      This is a very sad case, but there are also thousands of cases where guns save lives.

      I know of one case where a dear friend was chased off the freeway by true racist thugs who were shouting racial epitaphs at him. When he got to his home he called the police and called for help, got the runaround, and simultaneously yelled to his wife, “Get my shotgun!” The rednecks immediately left, the police where there in two minutes, and they spent an hour grilling all the neighbors to fund out that he was a God fearing, peaceful, lovable man who never had a single problem in 20 years. I don’t know if he actually has a shotgun, but it sure worked!

  2. Tia Will

    South of Davis

    1.”How will making a future Darwin Award winner that didn’t use the lock that came with her gun that leaves a loaded gun in arms reach of a kid any safer if you force everyone to buy a gun safe?” It would not. But it might prevent a number of the other incidents noted in the cited article. I was using her death as a current example, not as the only circumstance in which there is preventable harm.

    2. “Great idea we can also send everyone that uses a gun in a crime to jail for life.”

    My article is specifically about accidental harm from guns, not about their criminal use.

    3. “The number of kids killed by guns is so low why not have MDs so talk about chainsaw safety?  A few years back bikes and roller skates were the top killers of kids.  should MDs also teach bike and roller skate safety?

    Chainsaw safety would have been an appropriate discussion in the rural neighborhood in which I was raised. And yes, MDs should counsel parents on whether or not their children are adhering to the safe use of helmets during these activities. 

    As a doctor, I do not consider the > 100/year deaths and injuries that are 100% preventable yearly as too small a number to address. And neither did most of the population when they perceived themselves to be at risk from Ebola, even when that number was two deaths in the United States. Most posters here thought the millions of dollars being spent on Ebola training and drills was great when they perceived themselves as at risk. Unfortunately, as this case so clearly illustrates, this young woman did not perceive herself as at risk from her own weapon. She was wrong. Yes, it seems to me like some research, some education and some enforcement might be in order.

  3. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    I am not against gun ownership by those who are well-trained in their safe usage and safe storage, as long as the gun owner does not have a history of violence, serious depression or some sort of psychosis, and the gun itself is designed for civilian, and not military, use. If I lived out in the country and far from the police, I would likely learn how to safely use and store a gun, and I would want one in my home. However, I think a lot of people who own firearms for the purpose of keeping their families safe from criminals are unwittingly putting their own families in danger from the accidental discharge of those weapons, as happened in the Idaho Wal-Mart, or the intentional shooting of a family member, sometimes mistaking who the “intruder” was. A big part of the problem is, I think, that the gun owners, who should be licensed, don’t really understand safe storage practices, and they are not well trained in how to safely use their guns.

    Of all the serious academic studies I have seen, it appears that the odds of killing a family member with the family gun is far higher than killing an intruder. This is the abstract of a paper published in the American Journal of Epidemiology:

    Data from a US mortality follow-back survey were analyzed to determine whether having a firearm in the home increases the risk of a violent death in the home and whether risk varies by storage practice, type of gun, or number of guns in the home. Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 3.4). They were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide, but risk varied by age and whether the person was living with others at the time of death. The risk of dying from a suicide in the home was greater for males in homes with guns than for males without guns in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 10.4, 95% confidence interval: 5.8, 18.9). Persons with guns in the home were also more likely to have died from suicide committed with a firearm than from one committed by using a different method (adjusted odds ratio = 31.1, 95% confidence interval: 19.5, 49.6). Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.

     

    1. South of Davis

      I read that the lady killed by her kid WAS licensed and had a CCW.  I have never heard of a state that gives these out with some training and/ or testing.

      As far as gun deaths in the home a huge percent of these are suicides.  If MDs start reminding people how fast and easy guns can kill we might have even less people driving to the GG Bridge…

       

      1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        RIFKIN: “… gun owners, who should be licensed …”

        Were I in charge, I would have a Department of Firearms Safety in each state, much like there is a DMV in each state.

        I would require any adult (18 or over) to have a current, valid DFS license to purchase or own a gun. In order to get or renew a license, the DFS would first have to determine that the applicant did not have a history of violence, depression or psychosis. (I don’t see any reason to deny a convicted felon who has done his time, if the crime was not violent.) The applicant would then have to take and pass a course (like those given by the NRA) in gun safety and safe storage of firearms. Each license would have to be renewed annually, to make sure the licensee still qualifies. However, licensees would only have to take a gun safety course once every 5 years.

        In order to buy a gun–whether from a licensed gun dealer or in a private sale–the buyer would have to show his valid license, and the sale itself would have to be registered with the DFS, much like is done with car purchases. Each lawful gun would have to be tagged in such a way that its valid ownership could be determined by the DFS in case the gun were stolen, much like each car has a unique VIN. If a gun were stolen and the theft was not reported, the lawful owner would face criminal sanction.

        In the case of sporting weapons not designed for civilian use or for hunting, like automatic or semi-automatic guns with large magazines, I would favor allowing licensed civilians to own these weapons, but (in almost all cases*) not store them in their houses or transport them on public roads. Rather, I think such guns can and should be kept in locked facilities at authorized gun ranges, where the owner could check out his gun and fire it at targets at the gun range.

        * I think a licensed citizen who wants to own a semi-automatic rifle and keep it locked safely in his home should be able to apply to the DFS for permission to do so if they have a perfectly clean record; and the DFS should have a higher standard for granting such requests. They might include a more intrusive background check and stricter requirements for safe storage in the home and a higher level of license, showing the owner can operate the gun safely. Also, if the gun-owner does not fully comply with all requirements for safe home storage of such guns, his license to have one of these weapons should be removed permanently.

        1. Biddlin

          Too logical for most gun advocates, thanks Rifkin.
          So you would have agreed with harsher consequences for Gary Tudesko, the Willows high school kid that parked his truck, with the rifles in plain sight,  in front of the “gun free zone sign at school, after duck hunting? I seem to recall that the general opinion in those parts,was he didn’t do anything wrong. That bothered me, because it was so blatant and stupid and then his plea was essentially stupid is alright and a local tradition. His NRA legal team negotiated a deal to shoot the principal if I recall..

          ;>)/

      2. Robert Canning

        SOD says: “If MDs start reminding people how fast and easy guns can kill we might have even less people driving to the GG Bridge…”

        Simple reminders from your MD only go so far. Easy access to lethal weapons is also one of the reasons that gun suicide rates are so high. Getting people the treatment they need is another issue. Less than half the people with serious depressive disorders see a trained mental health professional. Most prescriptions for antidepressants are your local primary care provider who undertreats and does not follow guidelines.

      3. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        I also heard that she was trained, experienced and in possession of a concealed weapons permit. This obviously did not make her accurate in her assessment of the relative safety of carrying vs not carrying her weapon. I wonder if she might have made a different assessment had she, in addition to her training, been aware of the statistics regarding accidental shootings by family members of those who choose to carry for their “safety” ?

        1. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          >  I wonder if she might have made a different assessment had she,

          > in addition to her training, been aware of the statistics regarding

          > accidental shootings by family members of those who choose to

          > carry for their “safety” ?

          Most people in America with an IQ approaching triple digits know that there are a lot of accidental gun deaths just like almost everyone in America knows it is not a good idea to drive while drunk.

          You may think that gun deaths are “100% preventable” but until one of you MD friends comes up with  “cures” for “stupid”, “bad judgement” and “lack of common sense” (that we can put in the water) we are always going to have tragic gun accidents (and car accidents).

  4. Anon

    You can make all the suggestions you want on gun safety, and I don’t particularly have any problems with any of them.  But the reality is, people make mistakes, especially parents.  Parenting is a 24/7 job, no letups if the child is not in school.  Mistakes are inevitable because a parent can never be perfect all the time.  It is clear from this case the mother did not take the proper precautions to secure the gun properly.  It is highly unlikely that any of the measures Tia Will suggests would have made any difference in this case.  The mother made a very stupid mistake, one that as a responsible gun owner she knew was foolish, and she paid the ultimate price.

    1. Robert Canning

      Anon, the attitude that I detect in your post is that there is nothing to be done about these sorts of aberrations. You say “it is unlikely” that this could have been prevented. Do you have evidence or data that suggests this? This was a preventable death, like many accidents. Public health campaigns have reduced the numbers of deaths due to accidents in a wide array of areas – care accidents, recreational sports (helmets for skiiers, etc.), and in-home accidents. There is no good reason we cannot reduce these sorts of accidents from happening. Although some of Tia’s suggestions may not have directly targeted this sort of accident, the general attitude engendered by these efforts have broad effects. One example is the U.S. Air Force’s suicide prevention program. While it was targeted specifically at suicide prevention, over the years after it was instituted, rates of homicide and domestic violence in Air Force families declined.

    2. Tia Will

      Anon

      I disagree that any of the suggestions that i made would not have prevented this.

      If her gun had been equipped with a “smart device” allowing only the owner to fire the weapon, the baby would have been unable to trigger it. Yes, it is true that all humans make mistakes. This does not mean that we should not continue to attempt to minimize both the number and impact of those mistakes.

      1. South of Davis

        Tia wrote:

        > If her gun had been equipped with a “smart device” allowing

        > only the owner to fire the weapon, the baby would have been

        > unable to trigger it. 

        Would you be in favor of other smart devices (to save even more lives) like:

        1. A bike lock that would only open if someone with a BAC below .08 blew in to it?

        2. A fridge lock that would only open if the person had a body fat percentage under .20?

        3. A front door lock that would not open unless the person was wearing a bullet proof vest?

        1. Tia Will

          South of Davis

          I am unsure of why you feel the need for sarcasm. It is of course your right, but I fail to see how it adds to the conversation as I am quite sure that you can tell the difference between a lethal device employed by one individual against another ( whether intentionally or not) and a device which would protect only the individual using it.

        2. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > I am unsure of why you feel the need for sarcasm.

          I was not being sarcastic, just wondering how far you personally want to take the “nanny state”.  It was not long ago when someone may have thought I was “silly” for asking if someone wanted to ban back yard grilling, cokes in Happy Meals or Plastic bags…

          Widespread use of ignition interlock devices that won’t allow a car to be started if a driver has had too much alcohol, once considered radical, no longer seems out of the question. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) gives a qualified endorsement to the idea.

          http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/autos/2006-04-24-breathalyzer-usat_x.htm

      2. hpierce

        Applying the same criteria that Mr Canning used, “Do you have any evidence or data that suggests this?”

        Particularly related to 2-year olds in an Idaho department store, involving a mother with experience with weapons, with the weapon in a zipped purse compartment?

        Your assertion appears appears as strong, or as weak, as Anon’s, but I’m gonna’ bet Mr Canning will not ask the question of you that he did of Anon.

        Those who ask the question posed, should at least have the decency, intellectual honesty to offer their evidence/data to the contrary when they ask that question.

        And no, I do not have the data or evidence to support my comment in the previous sentence, so I’m sure you and Mr Canning will dismiss it as “unsubstantiated”.

        1. Robert Canning

          Hpierce, here is what I said in whole: “You [meaning Anon] say “it is unlikely” that this could have been prevented. Do you have evidence or data that suggests this? This was a preventable death, like many accidents. Public health campaigns have reduced the numbers of deaths due to accidents in a wide array of areas – care accidents, recreational sports (helmets for skiiers, etc.), and in-home accidents.”

          My point is that assertions that these sorts of events are one-off’s that cannot be prevented is akin to many people’s misunderstanding about aspects of suicide prevention. I have often met individuals in my work that say something like the following: “If someone wants to kill themselves there is nothing we can do.” This level of 1) misunderstanding; and 2) fatalism flies int he face of empirical evidence that suggests that there are lots of things to do to prevent suicide. So, my comment to Anon is that there are lots of things to do and plenty of empirical evidence that accidents (including gun accidents) can be reduced by reasonable and doable means. Some of these have been mentioned in other posts.

          And my comment is not about the particular case but about gun accidents in general.

        2. hpierce

          As to your ? of me in the 3:42 post, your referenced comment came in your 1:53 post:

          “If her gun had been equipped with a “smart device” allowing only the owner to fire the weapon, the baby would have been unable to trigger it.”

          You appear to be responding to Anon’s comment (10:07):

          “It is highly unlikely that any of the measures Tia Will suggests would have made any difference in this case.”, 

          as did Mr Canning, slightly before you posted, saying:

          “Do you have evidence or data that suggests this?”.

          Hence, my comment of 3:33.  Connect the dots.  Do you, or don’t you have any evidence/data that indicates your 1:53 post, as quoted, has any more credence than Anon’s post of 10:07?  Simple.  Yes, or no?

          I am only asking of you what Mr Canning asked of Anon. No more, nor less.

        3. hpierce

          Mr Canning… re:  your 4:38 post yesterday… (which, for some reason, I did not see when I subsequently posted)

          You are correct, I focussed on on one part of your post, as I detected an attitude that certain folks can give their opinion, but only if they document a ‘factual basis’ for it, yet others are free not to do so.  Your 4:38 post is appreciated… fair enough.

  5. Frankly

    I appreciate the focus on the article being recommended solutions.  A couple of thoughts & ideas.

    1. The scope of the problem does not warrant solutions in the extreme.  Guns meant for safety come with inherent personal risks that most of the people having them for safety understand.

    2. Risks to other non-family memebers being accidentally shot are de minimis especially compared to all the other risks of being harmed or killed by another.  Any discussion on banning guns from the sane and law abiding is a non starter for this reason and because of the Constitution.

    3. There should never be a loaded and unlocked gun within reach of any child under the age of 12… and then under the age of 16 if not certified in a gun handling and gun safety training class.  There should be hefty monetary fines for violations… but not any jail time.  I would also agree that any person getting multiple violations should be banned from gun ownership.

    4. Those that would like to rid society of guns have a conundrum if they are also on the side of limiting the force of law enforcement to prevent gun crime.  Certainly not all, but most of the people I know that are on the side of more restrictions on gun ownership and use, are also on the side of reduced and softer law enforcement.   Already in cities like Seattle that had previously implemented this softer style of policing, crime has significantly increased.  There is a great quote from the movie “Fury” when Brad Pitt explains to his new softer and less war-experienced assistant tank driver: “ideals are peaceful, but history is violent”.   I would just replace the word “history” with “reality”.   Utopia would absolutely be attainable if it wasn’t for all the people.

    5. The suicide connection to private gun ownership does demand dialog.  However, there does not appear to be any reasonable solution to suicide on the side of significantly limiting gun rights because of the negative impacts to others’ rights and also because there are so many guns available and in the hands of Americans and that would continue to be available, that few would be saved… and enforcing the laws on the new significant gun right restrictions would just harm more people.

    My thinking on the increase in suicide is that it has tracked pretty much with the rise in secularism.   I think more suicidal people would be saved finding Christ or maybe other religions that help them find and understand greater meaning in life.   And also, I think improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of depression from the industry of medicine will also help.  Lastly, and this one is a controversial one that puts me at odds with my family, I believe we should never, ever, ever honor the dead that did so at their own hand.  In fact, I think we should demonstrate some careful walk between demonstrating our ongoing disgust with that fateful and selfish decision to check out and harm everyone else, and forgiveness for the giant mistake made.

    1. Robert Canning

      Frankly says:

      I think improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of depression from the industry of medicine will also help.

      We have the tools already to treat the major psychiatric causes of suicide – depression, bipolar illness. The issue is not the “industry of medicine” it is more (IMHO) the willingness of the U.S. society to reduce the stigma of mental illness, increase access to care and to adequate treatment. Recent data suggests that those in our country with major depression do not see trained mental health professionals. And if they are treated by their primary care doctor they are treated inadequately and outside of professional guidelines. It’s not just a problem for the medical “industry” but a public health problem. There were over 40,000 suicides in the U.S. last year.

    2. Tia Will

      Frankly

      There is a great quote from the movie “Fury” when Brad Pitt explains to his new softer and less war-experienced assistant tank driver: “ideals are peaceful, but history is violent”.   I would just replace the word “history” with “reality”. 

      I found it interesting that you chose to quote very selectively from this movie. Yes, the circumstances in which they find themselves, and in which they all become willing participants are very violent. And yet, what allows the young tank driver to survive is the transcendent humanity of one other soldier who could easily have killed him, but made the very human choice not to. You speak of “history” and “reality” as though brutality is the only option. It is not. History is also replete with the stories of those who act to save and ease the suffering of others.

    3. Tia Will

      Frankly

      The scope of the problem does not warrant solutions in the extreme.”

      So in the interests of discussing my suggestions, or those of Rich, which I also greatly appreciate, which of these proposals did you see as extreme. What did I write that you felt was any threat what so ever to our constitutional rights to own weapons ?  I felt that I was very explicit in stating that I was not favoring bans of any weapons, only responsible ownership and usage. Was I not clear ?

    4. TrueBlueDevil

      Wow, this is a new one. Do you have any links or references?

      “My thinking on the increase in suicide is that it has tracked pretty much with the rise in secularism.”

      I wonder if there is also a link to marijuana and alcohol usage? It seems like many crimes I’ve read of recently, especially with your people, involve pot, booze, or meth.

      1. Tia Will

        TBD

        Again, my article, and all of my proposed solutions were aimed at minimizing the harm done by accidental discharge of firearms. I was not writing, nor should any of my comments be interpreted to deal in any way with criminal use of guns, drugs, alcohol, gangs, or intentional homicide or suicide or the use of any other type of weapon. All are important topics for another time. None of these have anything at all to do with my description of a problem that I see or my proposed solutions.

  6. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    SOD: ” If MDs start reminding people how fast and easy guns can kill we might have even less people driving to the GG Bridge.”

    Something a relative of mine, who is a psychiatrist, told me years ago has always stuck with me: Successful suicide is a crime of opportunity. If you increase the ease for success, you increase the number of successful outcomes.

    He stated that suicidal feelings among people with severe depression are not constant. Those feelings come and go, peak and ebb. (Meds help most depressed people never reach a peak, and thus never try to commit suicide; alcohol often has the opposite effect.) So when the point comes when a depressed person is at his bottom and his feelings of wanting to kill himself are very high, whether he kills himself or not is very often a matter of opportunity. Give him easy access to a gun in the house, and he will shoot himself and he will die. Pretty much the same story if he has access to very lethal drugs. But if you take away those tools, and he tries to kill himself (say with a knife or by hanging himself), it’s more likely that he will survive his attempt, that the suicide will not be successful. And even without top-notch sustained mental health treatment, his uncontrollable feelings of wanting to die will recede, at least for awhile.

    The best solution, of course, is very good mental health treatment, including counseling and pharmaceuticals to control depression. But reducing the opportunity for a successful suicide, until such medicine begins, is a crucial factor in avoiding such tragedies.

    1. Tia Will

      Give him easy access to a gun in the house, and he will shoot himself and he will die.”

      I credit the fact that I do not keep a gun in my home, nor lethal medications with the fact that my son is still alive. At age 16 on the same day we had him voluntarily hospitalized for severe depression with suicidal ideation, he made the most frightening statement that I have ever had to deal with. When I asked him if he was having thoughts of killing himself, his answer was “If I could have thought of a certain way to do it painlessly, I would have already killed myself.” So from my point of view, no available gun and no available sedatives, and my son ( somewhat lacking in imagination) was still alive.

      1. South of Davis

        I don’t want to ever make light if suicide since it is very tragic.  I have had three people in my extended family take their lives one by gun (like about half the people that take their lives) another hanging from a rope (like about a quarter of people that take their lives), and another with some kind of poison (like about 1/6 th of the people that take their lives.

        I’m sure that if all new guns were “smart guns” we would save a few lives just like if we banned all retail rope sales (to stop hanging) banned all poisons (to stop poisoning) and tore down all the bridges (so people couldn’t jump) and banned (non electric) cars (so people could not lock themselves in a garage to go to sleep and die).

        It is easy for people that don’t own guns to say “let’s make new guns harder to use and more expensive” while it would be easy for the gun owners in TX to say let’s ban drugs you can OD on and “make it harder and more expensive”for liberals in Marin and East Bay to get in to SF by ferry after we take the bridges down.

      2. TrueBlueDevil

        Tia, I am sorry to read this, I hope your son is doing much better. I had a close relative attempt this, but thankfully he has survived. He tried every cure in the book, and I never thought he would kick his demons. In jail he finally got down on his knees and asked God for help, and he said his urges mostly vanished. It has been a tough road back, but he has made remarkable progress, and weekly therapy helps. I’m not a bible thumper but it sure helped him. Best wishes.

        1. Tia Will

          TBD

          Thank you for the caring words. My son is doing very well. He has had only the one episode of depression, is proceeding slowly but steadily through college with a definite career in mind. Risk reduction is real and can work. While it obviously will not solve our mental health problems, reducing opportunity is a very real strategy which can and does save lives.

    2. Robert Canning

      I think Rich is pretty much on the mark with his comments.

      I would only add that means restriction is also an effective method of suicide reduction. One only has to look at changes made to physical structures such as bridges (the Cold Springs Bridge in Santa Barbara County or the Duke Ellington Bridge in DC – or the GGB in the future),or efforts made by the Israeli Defense Forces to limit guns going home on the weekend, or the gun buyback programs in Australia to see the value of these types of programs. Other examples include the changeover from coal gas to natural gas in England or the change of doseage of Tylenol. These are programs that are reasonable and doable and save lives.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        I’m all for gun buyback programs, and wish we would use our noggin and cut deals with top concert promoters on a massive campaign to swap tickets for guns. Talk about win-win-win. If we used different artists, over a several year period, we could take hundreds of thousands of guns off the streets.

  7. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    DON SHOR: I defy you to provide the slightest evidence for it. 

    Don, the evidence is on this is actually there. Here is an abstract from a study published in 2004 by the American Journal of Psychiatry:

    “OBJECTIVE: Few studies have investigated the association between religion and suicide either in terms of Durkheim’s social integration hypothesis or the hypothesis of the regulative benefits of religion. The relationship between religion and suicide attempts has received even less attention. METHOD: Depressed inpatients (N=371) who reported belonging to one specific religion or described themselves as having no religious affiliation were compared in terms of their demographic and clinical characteristics. RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation. Unaffiliated subjects were younger, less often married, less often had children, and had less contact with family members. Furthermore, subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide. In terms of clinical characteristics, religiously unaffiliated subjects had more lifetime impulsivity, aggression, and past substance use disorder. No differences in the level of subjective and objective depression, hopelessness, or stressful life events were found. CONCLUSIONS: Religious affiliation is associated with less suicidal behavior in depressed inpatients. After other factors were controlled, it was found that greater moral objections to suicide and lower aggression level in religiously affiliated subjects may function as protective factors against suicide attempts. Further study about the influence of religious affiliation on aggressive behavior and how moral objections can reduce the probability of acting on suicidal thoughts may offer new therapeutic strategies in suicide prevention.”

    Although this abstract–which is all I read–does not distinguish among various religious affiliations, I would not be surprised to learn that there is a difference among those parishioners who attend a church/mosque/temple which vehemently opposes suicides and inculcates the idea in the minds of its followers that those who commit suicide will be severely punished by their deity than those religious bodies which are far more understanding or forgiving of suicide.

    I think something important to understand is that the feeling of wanting to commit suicide comes and goes. It is not a constant. And therefore, if the person who has such feelings has tools to draw on (or maybe myths he has been brainwashed to believe), he will overcome those feelings for the short term and wait it out until the feeling ebbs.

    NOTE: After I replied to Don’s comment which lambasted Frankly for saying that greater secularism was the problem in suicide rates, Don’s comment disappeared. I guess he realized it was wrong?

    1. Don Shor

      I actually pulled my comment because I have decided as a New Years resolution that I will not debate Frankly’s bigotry about secularism with him. Thanks for the data points. But I won’t be engaging the issue again.

      1. Frankly

        Don – it is not bigotry.  You are over-sensitive on this, IMO.  There is a legitimate and worthy debate.  Rich Rifkin includes some information on studies that I am familiar with.

        My own personal experience with family member depression and suicide supports this point.  One of the great teachings of Christianity is forgiveness.  I know many people that suffer with periodic depression resulting from their life situation that had been influenced by poor decision-making.   I know some that have been “saved” by acquisition of faith… primarily because they learned how to forgive themselves for their past mistakes, and move on.  AA bases their stepped program on the base of Christian teaching of forgiveness.

        Also, some depressed people are just lonely, and a loving congregation can eliminate or reduce loneliness.

        Certainly people can turn to other social services to get some of the help they need.  I do include medical assistance for those that need it.  However, if coping skills are the thing that can help prevent a person from taking his/her life, then religion certainly can provide it.   I think you are going to have a very hard time refuting these points.

        1. South of Davis

          While it appears that Frankly is more religious(and conservative) than I am I don’t see that he is “bigoted” has any problem with non-religious (or left leaning) secular people.

          We all know that religious people do bad stuff it is just that they tend to do less of it than the general population that is a mix of religious and non religious.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          Frankly and SOD, good points. I had a relative who also attempted this, who was saved by faith. I’m not pushing it, but he was on a 20-year path of destruction before that. Religion and therapy have saved him, and now he is also becoming a health freak. Good for him. (He is trying to make up for abusing his body for many years.)

          I had a debate last night regarding the influence of religion. Can you folks help?

          I referred to the Harvard professor who I had posted previously who said that religion helped to secure America’s democracy and reinforce our society. I was met with skepticism and told that “people who are moral and listen to their own inner voice” are just as law-abiding as religious people. I find this hard to believe, and I gave examples where some people use justification for stealing or other lawless behavior because of the ‘wealthy corporations’ or various grievances as justification for theft, etc. Any help?

          I’m told Russia is pretty lawless, as is China (anything and everything is copied).

          Do religious people commit less crime?

        3. TrueBlueDevil

          Thank you. I’d want to read more. Skimmed it, but much of this seems to correlate with income, and I wonder how he classifies African countries, which I didn’t see mentioned.

          I would also see a distinction between non-practicing religious, and practicing, active religious.

          When I was in Utah several Utah residents commented that crime was very low for Mormons, but higher for non-practicing Christians (cultural Christians).

      2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        DON: “I actually pulled my comment because I have decided as a New Years resolution that I will not debate Frankly’s bigotry about secularism with him.”

        It would be pretty funny if a reporter on the street walked up to Don today and this conversation followed.

        Reporter: Hi. I’m from the Daily News. Can I ask you a brief question about New Year’s?

        Don: Uh, sure. No problem.

        Reporter: So a lot of people make New Year’s resolutions. Did you make any?

        Don: Uh, yeah, I made one.

        Reporter: What did you resolve?

        Don: I have decided as a New Years resolution that I will not debate Frankly’s bigotry about secularism with him.

        Reporter: Interesting. … You’re the only person I’ve come across so far with that resolution. Have a good day!

        1. Don Shor

          Each year I choose one Vanguardian and one topic on which I resolve not to debate. A couple of years ago I resolved not to debate Mike Harrington about water. Mike and I get along great now.
          I also resolved to plant more plum trees. I like to keep my resolutions doable.
          Using the principle that most resolutions get broken, my son resolved to start smoking and gain weight this year.

          Yet another house on my rural lane was the scene of a police action involving illegal and improperly used firearms right after Christmas. That’s the second sheriff action in two months. I generally oppose gun control legislation on the grounds that it is pointless. But there are only three directions these nimwits could fire their guns: toward our property, the neighbor’s property, or toward the freeway. Guess which one they were doing.

  8. Tia Will

    I would not be surprised to learn that there is a difference among those parishioners who attend a church/mosque/temple which vehemently opposes suicides and inculcates the idea in the minds of its followers that those who commit suicide will be severely punished by their deity than those religious bodies which are far more understanding or forgiving of suicide.”

    I am inherently adverse to any belief system that imposes the belief that a loving deity is capable of “severely punishing” those who commit suicide because of what ever circumstances He/She has created for them in their lives. I would rather live with the risk of suicide than with the belief in this kind of spiteful, clearly unloving, uncaring deity.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I am inherently adverse to any belief system that imposes the belief

      > that a loving deity is capable of “severely punishing” those who commit suicide

      So am I, and while I’m not a bible thumper telling people to go to church, mosque, or temple you can’t argue with Frankly that very religious people don’t kill themselves as often as others (or rob liquor stores and get shot by the cops as much)… 

      1. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        you can’t argue with Frankly that very religious people don’t kill themselves as often as others “

        I agree. And that is why I did not argue that. However, one can also make the case that very religious people ( some might call them zealots) have been responsible for many oppressions, wars, jihads and the like because they claimed that their faith was superior to others and that others should be subjugated. Religion, like most belief systems, is a two edged sword. It both elevates and debases humans depending on how it is used. I doubt that Frankly would agree with this, at least as it applies to Christianity and yet I would remind him of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the genocide of Native Americans, all fueled by the belief that Christianity was the superior religion.

    2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      Wikipedia has a review of various religious teachings/beliefs on suicide. As I suspected, all of them generally oppose it. Though some will make exceptions in certain cases. (I was surprised to see the Mormon view is as understanding as it is, even though Mormons oppose suicide like other faiths.)

      What the Wikipedia page says about Jews rang true to me: “Suicides are frowned upon and buried in a separate part of a Jewish cemetery, and may not receive certain mourning rites. In actual practice, every means is used to excuse suicide—usually by determining either that the suicide itself proves that the person was not in their right mind, or that the person committing suicide must have repented after performing the deadly act but shortly before death occurred.”

      Along these lines, I recall learning from Muslims that Islam is very strict in its opposition to suicide. When the pilot of an Egyptian airliner killed himself and everyone on board (about 16 years ago) by intentionally crashing his plane off the coast of Long Island, some Muslims vehemently argued that never could have happened because it is against Islam to commit suicide and the pilot was a devout Muslim. The Egyptian government at the time was convinced (at least in its public pronouncements) that EgyptAir 990 was the result of a technical malfunction of the airplane.

      Since that time, of course, very strict Muslims, in the name of martyrdom, have been killing themselves every day. No other religious faith today has suicide bombers in the name of religion. I suspect, because those who kill themselves in an attempt to kill other people are believed by their imams to be acting on behalf of a larger jihadi cause, those suicides are not haram. No matter what excuses today’s Muslim leaders use, it’s pretty clear that some practitioners of Islam clearly do believe their suicides are sanctioned by their god.

    3. hpierce

      Tia… your comment is revealing, not necessarily of you, but the public discourse, in general.  I differentiate “spirituality” from “religion”.  I know many people who are “spiritual”, AND “religious”, and I find them good.  I know many people who are “spiritual” BUT NOT “religious”, and I find them good.  I know some folks who are “religious” and NOT “spiritual” and they vex me.  I know of a lot of folks who are neither “spiritual” nor “religious”, and many of them scare me because they have absolutely no morals.  And before you or others ask, I cannot prove why I feel that way based on data or evidence.  So you can discount/ignore my input.  Of course, all of this talk of suicides, religion,etc., is “off-topic”, so my comments should be deleted by the moderator.

  9. South of Davis

    Tia wrote:

    > yet I would remind him of the Crusades

    We are talking about how to reduce gun suicides in 2015 and Tia brings up the bad behavior of Christians in 1095-1291 (before man even invented the handgun)…

    1. Biddlin

      In September, 1982, between the 16th and 18th,Christian Militia massacred 3,500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, by a Lebanese Christian militia in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon.

      More recently and a lot closer to home, “Christians” are responsible for federal building and temple bombings, assassinating doctors and journalists, including many infants and children, all in the name of their lord. One need not look hard or far to find thugs and murderers clothed in priestly cloth.

      ;>)/

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        My first source via a search estimates the deaths at between 762 and 3500. The second source estimates the numbers between 460 and 3,500. But you promote the top estimate with no mention of the lower estimates.

        This massacre was also in “retaliation for the assassination of newly elected Lebanese president Bachir Gemayel, the leader of the Lebanese Kataeb Party”, according to Wikipedia.

        A third source says Christians, Jews, and Muslims were killed in the massacre.

        Present day, the vast majority of terrorist strikes worldwide are committed by Muslims.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      Weren’t the Crusades the reaction to Muslims and other invaders sweeping across Europe, killing, raping, and trying to convert Christians?

      I was also taught that most Native Americans were killed by disease, not warfare.

      1. Tia Will

        TBD

        I was also taught that most Native Americans were killed by disease, not warfare.”

        True unless you include biological warfare in terms of provision of blankets known to have been used by those having small pox as “disease”.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          True, but I’m not sure what percentage of those killed by disease were by design, and and what were by accident or nature.

          All Native American tribes weren’t tree-hugging pacifists, either.

    3. Tia Will

      Tia brings up the bad behavior of Christians”

      Only in response to the one sided view that religion is a force for only good. Let’s please consider context when denigrating comments.

    4. hpierce

      Actually, the topic is NOT gun suicides, the topic is sensible gun possession/use.  Tia’s context was a 2-year old killing the mother with the mother’s gun.

      1. South of Davis

        hpierce wrote:

        > Actually, the topic is NOT gun suicides

        It is important to bring up suicides since MOST (so called) “gun accidents” in the home that result in death are actually suicides.

        Anti-gun people are correct that we would have less “gun” deaths if we had less guns, but lack of a gun will do nothing to prevent a guy that wants to end his life from throwing a rope over a rafter or sitting in the garage with the car running.

        “In 2010 in the U.S., 19,392 people committed suicide with guns, compared with 11,078 who were killed by others. According to Matthew Miller, associate director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center (HICRC) at Harvard School of Public Health”

        http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/magazine-features/guns-and-suicide-the-hidden-toll/

        1. Tia Will

          hpierce

          but lack of a gun will do nothing to prevent a guy that wants to end his life from throwing a rope over a rafter or sitting in the garage with the car running.”

          The evidence as posted by both Rich and rdcanning ( whose area of expertise is suicide prevention ) does not support this statement. Nor does my direct experience with my son. This is for two main reasons. None of the other modalities that people commonly use in suicide attempts have the high lethality and immediacy of a gun.

          As Rich further pointed out, suicidal ideation is frequently transient and the urge will ebb and flow. If the means of a swift ,painless death are not readily at hand this urge will subside for many people. For many it will not recur and there will be time to provide the needed help to get them past the episode of depression.

           

        2. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > The evidence as posted by both Rich and rdcanning ( whose area

          > of expertise is suicide prevention ) does not support this statement.

          > Nor does my direct experience with my son. 

          I agree with you, Rich and rdcanning that the harder we make it for people to commit suicide the less suicides we will have.

          With that said my original quote of “lack of a gun will do nothing to prevent a guy that wants to end his life” is still correct.

          I’m not an “expert” but there is a big difference between “wants to end their life” (the HUGE number of people that plan trips to SF from far away to go to the GG Bridge or even wait 10 days to buy a legal gun in CA) and “passing suicidal thoughts” (like it sounds like Tia’s son had)…

        3. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          One thing I was told–not long after a neighbor of mine in Davis killed himself by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge–is that suicides on that bridge often come in waves. It’s not like there is one every fortnight. One or two months can go by with none, and then several will happen in the subsequent months. The theory is that media coverage of Golden Gate Bridge jumpers puts that idea in the minds of a lot of people, including some who are very depressed or have some other condition making them want to kill themselves. And so a bad cycle gets going where more suicides drives more coverage and more coverage drives more suicides (from that place).

          I don’t think in a free society with freedom of the press, anything can be done about that. But if the news, especially local TV news, just completely ignored the story every time someone jumped off the GGB, it probably would reduce the numbers who die in that manner. (Better, of course, would be to build a safety net, which supposedly will be in place in a few years.)

          Odd as it sounds, this sort of copy cat behavior, following media coverage, often takes place with mass murders, like school shootings. Some very sick people (maybe with psychosis) hear or read about a school shooting, and then hear about another one, and they get it into their minds that they need to do this, too. So we often get waves of school shootings, where that bad cycle gets going; and if there were no media coverage, many of these events would not take place at all.

        4. Robert Canning

          There are guidelines for press coverage of suicide. The American Association of Suicidology has published these guidelines for a number of years and there actually has been some research on the topic of press coverage and suicide.

          South of Davis – I am not sure why you say this: “It is important to bring up suicides since MOST (so called) “gun accidents” in the home that result in death are actually suicides.” It is certainly true that the number of suicides reported (mostly by coroners and death certificates) are presumed to be an undercount. Sometimes coroners don’t do a good job investigating the cause of death, other times there is pressure to NOT call a death a suicide so it gets listed as accident or unknown cause. But I know of no research that has made that point. The Harvard Public Health article you cite does not make that point.

  10. Miwok

    Tia

    I am grateful you express your experience as a person who has been around guns, and your dad is a hunter. While I used to clean my dad’s guns I never touched them after and never even knew where the ammo was. You seemed to be a little precocious and maybe wanted to shoot them before you were ready? At least your comments here are not anti-gun.

    I am concerned however, if you are trained to by Kaiser to talk with people about guns and how it relates to your specialty as a doctor? Is Kaiser now accepting that risk? Are they questioning their patients about guns? And how is Kaiser dealing with the information?

    there is a “gun pundit” who is at UCDMC and posts studies all the time used by gun control advocates whose specialty is anything BUT guns and to my knowledge has never used them. I always wonder why they let him use the University as a springboard to his fame?

    Running this conversation off the religious rails and discussing suicide may be way off topic of what is a tragedy and obviously an accident. I will not comment further, but I respect yours. I just read down the comments and wonder where the topic went?

    1. Robert Canning

      Miwok, I think you are talking about Dr. Garen Wintemute, whose website: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/vprp/ has a wealth of information about gun safety, firearm epidemiology, and the need to seal the loopholes in some gun safety laws (gun shows in particular). I recommend his site as a good place for empirical evidence of the need for gun safety.

       

      1. Miwok

        Yes, I recognize the name, thank you. I reject his “expertise” because he has an agenda, not an open mind. It is amazing the anti-gun people do not want to disarm the military and police. When they do that, I might agree with them. SF tried to pass an ordinance to keep cops from carrying their service weapons off duty.

        Gun shows are insular activities, people there will not just sell to anyone. Some will sell you a book or ammo, but a gun is different, and I have actually had to be introduced before a gun dealer would talk to me about a weapon. Go to one, do your own research.

        I remember what many people wrote about tyrannies and the first thing they try to do is take away any defensive weapons. I cannot even wear a pocket knife around because that is illegal. If I carry one of the approved knives, people at concerts and other places take IT away. Of course there are many other objects that are more deadly to carry.

        Lately people seem to watch a movie and think that is reality, like “Smart Guns”. I wonder if they have any experience like Tia, with guns in the family, or not?

        My final thought is people need to feel safe. They do not do that with cops being their only resource of protection, especially when these discussions center on laying off as many as possible. I go places where there is no cell service to call a cop if I want one. The Forest Rangers tell me I am fine carrying, because they know what the score is up there. Big animals are up there too, so I want to enjoy them, not be their dinner. They don’t have cell service either. 🙂

        1. Tia Will

          Miwok

          My final thought is people need to feel safe.”

          I think that you make an  important point that I see differently. That is the difference between “feeling safe” and “being safe”. Unfortunately for their own well being, people will frequently act in ways that actually make them much less safe in order to “feel safer”.

          I found Ebola to be a great example. People were very interested in the precautions that were being taken ( at the cost of millions of dollars) to prepare, obtain supplies, train in their use, set up previously non existent programs and drill in what to do in the unlikely event that we had even one person identified in California not even with, but suspicious for Ebola, let alone in Yolo County or Davis and were very supportive of this expenditure. People wanted this done despite the fact that there were no cases documented here and the liklihood that there would be based on travel routes and airport locations was very, very small. This was despite the fact that we were entering flu season which does kill around 40,000 people annually, and despite the fact that we have an ongoing epidemic of whooping cough in this state, which is lethal to children under one year old, and despite the fact that all of these preparations diverted funds and personnel from the real, clear and present dangers to fight the theoretical danger that had caught hold of our media and collective awareness.

          One is not made any safer by giving in to one’s unfounded fears. One is made safer by accurate risk assessment, allocation of resources to the actual ( not always the same as the perceived ) risk, and by using primary prevention whenever possible as superior to secondary measures and attempts to cure. While it is far less dramatic, it is also true to say that if folks wanted to be safe and healthy this season, their best strategy would be to get themselves and all eligible family members vaccinated against both the flu and pertussis and to avoid large crowded public places, not to be wringing their hands, as many were about Ebola.

          I have to doubt that the 29 year shot be her son felt very safe going out with her loaded handgun in her purse. She was wrong. People’s feelings and reality are frequently in conflict. This is part of what makes primary prevention so important.

        2. Miwok

          From Wiki:

          Epidemiology is the science that studies the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is the cornerstone of public health, and informs policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare.

           
           From WHO:
          Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and the application of this study to the control of diseases and other health problems. Various methods can be used to carry out epidemiological investigations: surveillance and descriptive studies can be used to study distribution; analytical studies are used to study determinants.

          This is why I feel statistics are a hobby for this person, and I also think he does it as a hobby, or should. My concern is the use of University time and servers supporting what I consider a hobby for him. Guns are not a “risk factor for disease”.

        3. Robert Canning

          Dr. Wintemute’s “agenda” is gun safety. He has done extensive empirical research on accessibililtiy to firearms and also illegal practices in gun shows.

          I don’t promote banning firearms. I am in favor of reasonable controls on and access to firearms.

        1. Tia Will

          Miwok

           Guns are not a “risk factor for disease”.

          I think that you are viewing this too narrowly. While guns are not a risk factor for diseases such as infection, or diabetes, or high blood pressure, their presence is most certainly a risk factor for injury and death.  As such, their use and abuse fits into the realm of public health in terms of injury prevention just as do speed limits and use of car restraints.

          This is the basis for why I disagree with you about this being a “hobby” for Dr. Wintermute. Public health is an essential mission of UCD and injury prevention is definitely part of that mission.

    2. Tia Will

      Miwok

      you are trained to by Kaiser to talk with people about guns and how it relates to your specialty as a doctor? Is Kaiser now accepting that risk? Are they questioning their patients about guns? And how is Kaiser dealing with the information?”

      I don’t know if you are familiar with the Kaiser system so I am not even sure where to start. Kaiser has provided me with specialty specific training through my residency. My training is as an ob/gyn. This does not include any “training” at all in terms of gun safety. I do not know where you got the idea that my beliefs on gun safety have anything at all to do with Kaiser. I believe that it is clearly stated in several places on the Vanguard that my opinions are mine and mine alone and are no reflection of the position of my medical group, my colleagues,  or any member of the editorial board.

      I think that you may have a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship of individual physicians to Kaiser Foundation Hospitals,and the Permanente Medical Group. I would like to explain. Individual physicians are members of the Permanente Medical Group. We have our individual practices in which we have agreed to see only members covered by Kaiser insurance and to practice only out of Kaiser Foundation hospitals and medical office buildings unless special arrangements are made and approved through our Physicians in Chief as occurs when we do medical outreach. No one tells me how to practice. No one approves or disapproves of my treatment plans which  are agreed to by only the patient and myself. For procedures and treatments for which there all well established standards, we agree to practice in alignment with those. However, no one dictates how to treat any individual patient. Therefore, as an ob/gyn, your questions really do not pertain in any way to my practice nor to the practice of any speciality of which I am aware. I do not know how the pediatricians do or do not counsel their patients because I have never asked. I suspect there is variation in counseling just as there is within my specialty when strict guidelines are not in place based on proven best practice.

      I hope that helps to understand our model a little.

       

      1. South of Davis

        Tia wrote:

        > My training is as an ob/gyn. This does not include

        > any “training” at all in terms of gun safety. 

        Since you think it is a good idea for you to give gun safety advice so you think that NRA firearms instructors should talk with their female clients about birth control and other woman’s health issues?

        1. Tia Will

          South of Davis

          so you think that NRA firearms instructors should talk with their female clients about birth control and other woman’s health issues?”

          Absolutely !  I think that the more that we take responsible reproduction out of the shadows, stop pretending that it is solely a woman’s responsibility and have open discussions about how to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy and abortion, thus improving women’s and children’s health and thus strengthening our families and our society, I am all for it. I do believe that any woman should be able to ignore their advice, just as she does not have to take mine. I do believe that anything that they say should be open to full discussion of their ideas since they are likely not as well versed in the science behind women’s health issues as I just as I am not as versed in firearms as they are.

          That does not mean that they might not have good ideas, or see the issue from a different perspective that might lead to advances in reproductive health just as someone here might have an insight that would improve either reproductive health and or gun safety.

          Why would one want to limit the free exchange of ideas to only those with expertise in a field ? Surely adults are capable of sifting and weighing the opinions that they read. Is that not really the basis of why we read and post ? To exchange ideas with those who have different points of view ?

        2. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > Why would one want to limit the free exchange of

          > ideas to only those with expertise in a field ? 

          As you know that I am a big free speech guy and I have no problem if you want to spend all your free time talking about guns.

          My problem is that with health care costs going crazy and hospitals already often billing OVER $1,000/hour for a MDs time I don’t want to pay an extra $100 to have someone tell me something I don’t want to hear.

          P.S. How would you like it if the cost of an oil change went up due to the time it took to give everyone that came in some kitchen knife safety tips?

        3. Barack Palin

          I don’t think what SOD is referring to is an exchange of ideas like we’re doing here on a blog.  He’s asking if an OB/GYN should be giving gun safety advice to their patients just as do people think an NRA instructor should be giving advice about women’s birth control and other woman’s health issues.  I know if my wife went in for a pap smear and her OB/Gyn started drilling her on gun safety that my wife would think that was weird and inappropriate.

        4. South of Davis

          BP wrote:

          > I know if my wife went in for a pap smear and her OB/Gyn

          > started drilling her on gun safety that my wife would think

          > that was weird and inappropriate.

          But not as “weird and inappropriate” as a gun instructor at the range asking her what kind of birth control she used…

        5. Robert Canning

          OB/GYN trained physicians often act as primary care physicians to their patients and thus counseling about health care and risk issues is certainly within their perview.

    3. Tia Will

      Miwok

      I believe that I was partially to blame for allowing the discussion to head off topic. I make an attempt to respond to any seriously intended comment to any article that I write. This includes those that are only peripherally related to my initial topic. Needless to say, this sometimes leads us fairly far afield as I am very liberal ( no ,not the kind ,Frankly, although I am ) in my judgements of what is related.

       

      1. Miwok

        I know we all get excited, and thank you for realizing this one strayed a bit.  I also read with interest your experience with your own family. Please don’t apologize for the others, they just went where their perspective led them, or the conversation/debate took them.

        I enjoy all the debates especially, because I get to read opinions from a different place than I live.

        I think blame is prohibited by the Vanguard? Most posts I read are emotional, but not mean spirited. I fault myself for that as well.

  11. Tia Will

    Do you, or don’t you have any evidence/data that indicates your 1:53 post, as quoted, has any more credence than Anon’s post of 10:07?  Simple.  Yes, or no?”

    Yes.

     

    1. hpierce

      Je comprends.

      Walked into that due to sentence structure. May I reword?

      What evidence/data can you provide that would lead us to believe, and/or advocate for,

      “If her gun had been equipped with a “smart device” allowing only the owner to fire the weapon, the baby would have been unable to trigger it.”

  12. Tia Will

    What evidence/data can you provide that would lead us to believe, and/or advocate for,”

    I have no expertise in this field. However, I have read several articles and heard a talk about the technologies now existing and those which are being researched to incorporate biometric devices into new models of guns. There are a number of different means of achieving the goal of making the weapon incapable of being fired by anyone other than its registered owner.

    A primer on this subject is available on Wikipedia by Googling “smart guns”. If there is enough interest, I would be happy at some point to put together a more in depth summary of the current technologies that are available and those that are in research stages. However, I think that this might be a topic more appropriate for someone who has gone beyond the skill set anticipated for a nine year old in gun handling.

    1. Biddlin

      I am wondering how light the trigger pull on the gun was? In my experience, a two year old would have a great difficulty pulling the trigger on a revolver, but I am unfamiliar with newer automatics, like the 9mm used.

      1. South of Davis

        Biddlin wrote:

        > In my experience, a two year old would have a

        > great difficulty pulling the trigger on a revolver

        Most two year old kids could not pull the trigger and get the hammer to come back on a traditional double action revolver, but most could fire it if it was “cocked” (the hammer was pulled back).

        >  I am unfamiliar with newer automatics, like the 9mm used.

        When you “chamber a round” in a traditional semi-automatic (automatic handguns are VERY rare) 9mm handgun the slide action pushes the hammer back and  “cocks” the gun (just like you can do with your thumb before firing a revolver) and it does not take much to fire.

        P.S. I don’t know for sure but odds are that she not only had the gun cocked with a live round in the chamber but also had the safety off…

        P.P.S. Years ago we actually gave an (unloaded) Smith & Wesson Model 29 (the same 44 Magnum that “Dirty Harry” carried) to see if a two (almost three) year old could pull the trigger.  He had no problem firing it when we cocked it, but he could not pull the hammer back when it was not cocked…

  13. Tia Will

    Biddlin

    To get us started : I found the following

    http://vickerstactical.com/tactical-tips/trigger-pull-weight/

    This author seems to believe that the most appropriate pull weight, at least for a police officers weapon should be between three and five pounds. Under three pounds and the weapon is subject to accidental discharge. More than five can be associated with errors based on muscle fatigue.

    http://www.handgunsmag.com/blogs/carry-on/whats-the-right-trigger-pull-weight-for-a-carry-gun/

    This author notes recently trying out a 9mm with a pull weight of 2 lbs and seemed to find this a desirable weight due to the ease of firing.

    I have unfortunately not been able to find any reliable norms for toddler hand or finger strength but then this question focuses on the idea that the child himself rather than pressure on the firing mechanism from some other source in the purse or cart was what actually caused the gun to fire.

    1. Biddlin

      Thanks, Tia. I just did a test with a tension gauge I use in luthiery and a 2lb squeeze would be a chore for a two year old. (My old Colt .357 was about a 3 1/2 lb. pull, if I recall correctly.)  She had to have had a round chambered ready to fire and a hair trigger. Thank goodness it did not go off while it was pointed toward the baby, or toward her, while she was driving. Sadly, I have no doubt that the cavalier attitude toward such laxity among her family and peers back home is genuine. Next time I’m up that way, I think I’ll wear Kevlar.

      ;>)/

  14. Barack Palin

    What many miss in analyzing the statistics is how many robberies and deaths didn’t take place because the perpetrators were afraid that the people they were going to accost might own a gun.  There’s no way to measure that but it should play into the stats.

    1. David Greenwald

      There is actually a way to measure it. It would be somewhat complex. But you could do a comparative study in the state where gun ownership was lower and see if controlling for other demographic factors there is a measurable difference. Would require some sophisticated modeling but it is doable for a trained methodologist.

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > But you could do a comparative study in the state where gun ownership

        > was lower and see if controlling for other demographic factors there is a

        > measurable difference.

        I just went to the town where everyone I know that lives there has multiple guns and I see that there has not been a single murder in Jackson, WY for a decade:

        http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Jackson-Wyoming.html

        In Washington, DC where it was illegal to own a handgun for much of the past decade there were over two THOUSAND murders in the same time period:

        http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Washington-District-of-Columbia.html

        P.S. In 2008 SCOTUS said the DC handgun ban was unconstitutional and the murder rate has been cut in half since the ban was ended…

         

  15. Tia Will

    BP

    I know if my wife went in for a pap smear and her OB/Gyn started drilling her on gun safety that my wife would think that was weird and inappropriate.”

    Then perhaps neither you nor SOD payed any attention to my response to Miwok who questioned doctors providing advice outside their area of expertise. I believe that I made it quite clear that I do not, nor have I ever counseled a patient on gun safety. Please notice that everyone here is quite clear that I am not an expert in gun safety, nor am I pretending to offer expert advice on gun safety. I believe that I was clear that my article was a reflection on a preventable death from the point of view of a private citizen with a special interest in public safety.

    However, I do believe that childhood safety counseling is, or should be within the expertise of pediatricians a large part of whose role is counseling on how best to protect children from all kinds of dangers they may encounter whether those are accidental poisoning, crib safety, appropriate use of car restraints, appropriate use of helmets, water safety and yes in my opinion gun safety assuming they have mastered the information surrounding the established best practices.

    I also believe that I made it clear that while I believe that this should be within a pediatrician’s scope of practice, I have no idea whether this is or is not actually incorporated into their counseling for the simple reason that I have not discussed the issue with them.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I have no idea whether this is or is not actually

      > incorporated into their counseling 

      In the past 10 years most women I know with kids under 10 have been asked by a MD 1. If their husband owns a gun and 2. If their husband beats them, and 3. If they are worried their husband will hurt their kids…

      1. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        Unless you have been in the room with these women, I sincerely doubt that you have first hand knowledge of whether they have been asked the specific questions as you put them. Given the prevalence of domestic violence in our society and the reluctance of both men and women to report it, it is part of our customary practice in Ob/Gyn to ask our patients if they are now, or have they ever been in a physically abusive relationship ? The answer to these questions can have a huge impact on the over all health of an individual regardless of gender. What we do not do is to ask if their husbands beat them, since this is far too narrow a question. Women, men and children can all be the targets of domestic violence and the perpetrators can be any family member as was so graphically pointed out by the case of Adam Lanza whose first victim was his mother.

  16. Tia Will

    SOD

    But not as “weird and inappropriate” as a gun instructor at the range asking her what kind of birth control she used…”

    We seem to be crossing posts. Please see my response to BP at 9:11 am.

  17. Anon

    Lastly, and this one is a controversial one that puts me at odds with my family, I believe we should never, ever, ever honor the dead that did so at their own hand.  In fact, I think we should demonstrate some careful walk between demonstrating our ongoing disgust with that fateful and selfish decision to check out and harm everyone else, and forgiveness for the giant mistake made.”

    Selfish decision?  Sometimes people are overwhelmed by life experiences, that might not even be of their own making (e.g. abuse), and the pressure of their experiences causes their thinking to be off for a time.  They may think they have not been good enough, so need to be punished, or some other sort of irrational thought.  Sometimes suicidal thoughts can be the result of medications; mental illness; PTSD, etc.  Suicide is not necessarily a selfish act, but one of desperation.  I am very uncomfortable with the idea of judging a suicidal person, labeling them as somehow “selfish”, and in some religions refusing to bury them in “consecrated ground”.  A very good movie that explores this issue in the context of the Crusades is “Kingdom of Heaven”.

    I am wondering how light the trigger pull on the gun was? In my experience, a two year old would have a great difficulty pulling the trigger on a revolver, but I am unfamiliar with newer automatics, like the 9mm used.”

    My thought exactly.  I would think it would be difficult for a toddler to fire an uncocked weapon with no round in the chamber.

    Anon, the attitude that I detect in your post is that there is nothing to be done about these sorts of aberrations. You say “it is unlikely” that this could have been prevented. Do you have evidence or data that suggests this?

    I am all for prevention, if that is reasonably possible, so no you were not correct in detecting in my post there is nothing to be done about these sorts of aberrations.  However, I do not necessarily “blame” this young mother for the mistake she made.  Parenting is a 24/7 job, and no one is perfect.  Yes, she made a very stupid mistake that cost her her life, but who among us hasn’t made a stupid mistake?  Perhaps Tia’s idea of fingerprint ID enabled triggering of the gun might have worked to prevent this tragedy.  But fingerprint ID technology can be disabled by the owner; and in some cases may be undesirable (I’m thinking of gun use in the wilds of Alaska, where cold changes the ability of the fingerprint ID to work properly).

    1. Tia Will

      Anon

      I agree with much of what you have said.

      but who among us hasn’t made a stupid mistake?”

      Part of the reason that I believe in ongoing research to improve safety systems, not only for guns but also for cars, airplanes, medical devices is to continuously make the devices that we use safer. We have come a long, long way in terms of airplane and car safety. What I see as desirable is maximization of the safety technology as it currently exists and ongoing research to improve safety of guns just as we do other products that have impacts in the public realm precisely because as humans we do make so many errors.

      For just one moment, let’s suppose that it had not been the mother that was killed, but rather the mother of three who happened to be in the same isle. Should she have had to pay the “ultimate price” for the negligence of the woman who enjoyed “packing” ? What compensation should come to her children who have now been robbed of their mother’s care and their childhoods by the careless act of woman who was thinking only of herself ?

      In most states there is no culpability at all. No responsibility on the part of the gun owner, no responsibility on the part of the gun manufacturer. Nothing at all. If this kind of negligent act results in death due to a mistake made driving a car, there is at least the possibility of consideration of negligent homicide. If it occurs because of a malfunctioning part, there is the possibility of ownership of responsibility and some kind of settlement to provide for those left behind. In the case of gun negligence, which is what I think occurred here, there is no responsibility on the part of the owner or manufacturer and it would be just considered an “unfortunate accident”. The woman and the manufacturer would walk free with no consequences while the children would simply have to deal with the destruction of their lives.

    2. Frankly

      Selfish decision?

      Yes.  Absolutely… except when there is terminal illness where the quality of life is too low to justify continued life.

      In fact, I would go further… for people that do it while surround by people that love them… it is more than selfish because of the material harm done to others.

      Here is the thing… it is completely irrational to feel sympathy or empathy for the dead.  It is a waste of our precious time on this earth.   The dead cannot benefit from it.  They no longer feel any pain.   And it is actually potential detrimental in that some suicide is a pathetic cry for sympathy and noting the delivery of it from others can be some sick justification for going through with it.

      Agreeing to accept sympathy for a suicide “victim” is a gift to those that want to feel better about themselves.  That is all it is.

      You want my sympathy?  You want my empathy?  You want my help?  Then stick around here on earth and talk to me about what is bothering you and I will do everything I can to help you.   But the minute you end your life from a fateful decision to commit suicide, I reframe my relationship with you.  I connect to our past, but beyond that I focus on the living… especially those devastated by your final fateful and selfish act.

      How bad is your life really to justify a suicide?  My maternal great grandmother lost her 2 only husbands and 4 of her 8 children to disease, and then 2 of her kids to war.  She outlived all but one of her children… my grandmother.  She died of natural causes at 98.  My grandmother died at 94 outliving all but 2 of her 7 kids… 3 that died of brain cancer.

      Along the way these women amounted stacks of justification for suicide significantly exceeding the majority of excuses made for those that do.

      I’ve lost three close family from suicide. What I want to tell them is that life is already short enough and the gift of life, no matter how much pain, might be a one in a trillion, trillion blessing. There are enough examples of people failing to succeed at the attempt only to awaken something inside them that begins to value life to know that suicide can be just a state of mind that can be changed. Knowing that should be enough to help some people have hope for a better tomorrow… and live.

      The bravest thing a person can do is to keep living when thinking about ending life.  But it is also the right thing to do.  it is the unselfish thing to do.  And anyway, we will all be dead soon enough.

       

      1. Matt Williams

        In fact, I would go further… for people that do it while surround by people that love them… it is more than selfish because of the material harm done to others.

        Let’s do a simple cost-benefit analysis of your statement. It is arguable that the material harm you posit for the surrounding third parties is avoidable. It has been argued my many people that all those surrounding third parties have to do is pull up their emotional bootstraps and focus on the aspects of their lives that continues. Said another way, that argument is that the material harm to the third parties is only theoretical. On the other hand the material harm to the patient associated with each additional day he/she has to live with his/her affliction is both real and immediate. The aregument continues by noting that if one follows the moral imperative of “do no harm” then the surrounding third parties who hold on to the patient because of their potential future emotional pain are acting immorally by preventing the patient from ending his/her pain.

        Thoughts?

        1. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > that argument is that the material harm to the third parties is only theoretical. 

          I dated a girl in college who had her Dad walk in to the living room with a gun and tell her Mom and sister that “he hated them all” and that “they ruined his life” before he put the gun to his head and blew his brains out…

          I’m no expert on the theory of psychology but I don’t think we can find ANYONE (expert or non expert) that will say that a Dad doing something like this will not to any “material harm” to his wife and 12 & 14 year old daughters…

          P.S. I support assisted suicide (that goes along with my Pro Choice on EVERYTHING world view), but I’m not going to pretend that a kid who calls his parents to tell them that they did such a crappy job raising him that he is going to call Dr. K and end it all causes “only theoretical” damage…

          1. Matt Williams

            Interesting example SoD. Was the material harm done by his death, or by his theatrics and words.

          1. Matt Williams

            Frankly, what I see in both your example and SoD’s example is a conflating of two separate and different human actions, and in the process assigning the impact of the one onto the other. It isn’t a leap of faith to come to the conclusion that if the father in SoD’s example had chosen not to end his life, he would have meted out punishment to his wife and childern each and every day for the fact that that he hated them all and that they had ruined his life. His desire to punish his wife and children existed independent of his suicide. Suicide is really very simple … the act of intentionally causing one’s own death. Nothing more and nothing less than going gently into the good night. As Sydney Carton said in A Tale of Two Cities, “it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

            Your description of your step-sister doesn’t show us a person quite as dramatically committed to punishment as the father of SoD’s college friend, but you also pretty clearly indicate that this was the latest action in a series of actions, and it isn’t hard to imagine that had she chosen not to take her life, she would have continued to cause much pain in the people that cared about her. It seems like getting mad about that pattern of behavior is the real issue independent of life or death.

      2. Robert Canning

        Frankly, I know we’ve been down this road before. Most individuals (estimate from psychological autopsy studies is between 85-95%) who die by suicide suffer (and I emphasize the word ‘suffer’) from a mental disorder – mostly depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. My experience of suicidal patients is that they can develop a tunnel vision about the outside world – they can live around others, interact with others, and still feel isolated, alone, alienated, and abandoned. They are preoccupied with their psychic pain and their inability to do anything about it. Many people who commit suicide do so to relieve the pain rather than with the desire to die. In my view it is not about selfishness but the suffering of a major mental disorder. This is not about mental weakness or lack of moral stamina, it’s about illness.

        1. Frankly

          Robert Canning – I appreciate what you write and it rings true for me based on my experiences.  But I have a question for you.  People that are sick with Ebola… are they not suffering terribly?  Why not just end it instead of suffering?  And then the family members of a person that dies suddenly… are they not suffering?  Why then do they not just kill themselves to prevent the suffering?

          So we have hari kari or seppuku.  This was part of Japanese culture to kill oneself to regain honor.  Someone feeling very terrible about the loss of honor.  Feeling so bad that they decide the only way to solve their problem is to check out for good.

          I understand the mental disorder connection.  But I don’t believe, except in a minority of cases, the symptoms are so absolute that the suicide candidate does not think about anyone else.

          I have been very ill with the flu before.  At the worst time of symptoms I felt like I might die.  I felt very narcissistic… without much strength to care about others as the illness consumed everything I had.  But there is morality.  And there is responsibility.  And there is knowing that I personally am disgusted by people that check out.

          I think the message of morality, responsibility and disgust are potentially helpful in reducing the incidents of suicide.  I think outpourings of caring and empathy can do the opposite.

          People that commit suicide are not victims… they victimize others.

      3. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Here is the thing… it is completely irrational to feel sympathy or empathy for the dead”

        I think that you are missing two critical points here.

        First “feeling” is always irrational. Our feelings are just that “feelings” and are separate from our rationalizations of why we feel them and what those feelings mean.

        The second point is that what we “feel” about the dead is all about the living whether our feelings are those of loss, or relief ( as in the end of suffering of a loved one), or appreciation of a life well lived. These feelings never affect the dead so it is equally as ridiculous to feel that they were “selfish” or to focus in on any other attribute that you feel they may have had. Processing any of these emotions is completely about the living as of course, these feelings or our expression of them will not affect the dead as you have correctly noted. So your feelings of disgust or that they were selfish or immoral have no more validity than do feelings of sympathy or empathy.

        1. Robert Canning

          Frankly – Suicide is not typically associated with most physical illnesses (although chronic and deadly diseases are a risk factor for suicide). Even among those with mental disorders, most do not commit suicide. As a phenomena it’s rate is elevated in all mental disorders. Certainly people with other types of disorders (ALS, cancer, other physical ailments that are fatal) commit some suicides, but not nearly as often as those with mental disorders. There are cures for diseases like ebola so people seek treatment for their suffering. And in fact people with mental disorders seek treatment – and often get it. But many don’t.

          The examples of hari kari and seppaku are grounded in a culture very different than ours and where individuals have a strikingly different relationship to the cultural group.

          I’m sorry, but having the flu is not like having a severe depression or psychosis or mania. These are the extremes of behavioral and emotional disorders and when people are in the throws of these disorders they are not able to function or carry on.

  18. Tia Will

    Frankly

    I would go further… for people that do it while surround by people that love them… it is more than selfish because of the material harm done to others.”

    You seem to make the exception for terminal illness. I am wondering if you have considered any other exemptions, such as.

    1. What about chronic, intractable excruciating pain not amenable to treatment in an elderly person who is not diagnosed with a terminal illness.

    2. What about the person who wishes to end their life before they lose the ability to do so and become completely disabled as with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

    3. What about those who do not share your religion and view this life as just one part of a larger, indestructible whole and therefore do not see death as a loss ?

    4. What about those whose families and friends are in complete agreement with the decision for whatever reason thereby eliminating the issue of material harm to others ?

    Way off topic I know, but I felt a response was called for. Handle as you will, Don.

    1. hpierce

      You left out a young mother, suffering from “post-partum depression”, who hung herself in her garage.  Her doctors told the husband that she only had ‘the blues’.  Her 9 year old son found her.  She also left a 3 month old little girl, and a devastated husband.  Davis, ~ 1989.

      1. hpierce

        You left out a young mother, suffering from “post-partum depression”, who hung herself in her garage.  Her doctors told the husband that she only had ‘the blues’.  Nothing to worry about.  Her 9 year old son found her.  She also left a 5 month old little girl, and a devastated husband.  Davis, ~ 1989.

    2. Anon

      “I’ve lost three close family from suicide. What I want to tell them is that life is already short enough and the gift of life, no matter how much pain, might be a one in a trillion, trillion blessing. There are enough examples of people failing to succeed at the attempt only to awaken something inside them that begins to value life to know that suicide can be just a state of mind that can be changed. Knowing that should be enough to help some people have hope for a better tomorrow… and live.”

      I am very sorry for your loss, and I can understand where you are coming from.  But IMO your view is too myopic.  Hpierce has given a good example, where the suicide of a young mother very well may have been as a result of a hormonal imbalance, causing the brain to function improperly.  The same can be true of side effects to medications, or the presence of some sort of mental illness, that cause a person to become suicidal through no fault of their own.  There is no question that when a person becomes suicidal, they are turned inward, only cognizant of their own pain, and not necessarily thinking of the consequences of their act.  However, the turning inward towards thinking only of their own pain, may not be “selfish” as you put it, but could be caused by phenomenon outside their control.  I would perhaps turn you to scripture: “Judge not lest ye be judged.”  Also, please watch the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” for an interesting view of the issue.

        1. Anon

          Nope.  Kingdom of Heaven is exactly the movie I mean.  In the beginning of the movie, a young husband has to deal with not only the suicide of his young wife, but the fact that she cannot be buried in consecrated ground.  The movie goes on to explore the whole issue of wars in the name of religion…

          1. Matt Williams

            Anon, I just went to Netflix to add Kingdom of heaven to my queue, and this is the description I got. Is it correct. That description doesn’t seem to match yours.

            During the 12th century in the holy city of Jerusalem, a young peasant blacksmith takes up the mantle of knighthood so he can help repel the army of Islamic crusaders that took control of the city in the year 1099. Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons and David Thewlis co-star

      1. Frankly

        Isn’t turning inward the definition of selfish?

        Yes, there are brain malfunctions and chemical malfunctions.  These are both physiological and psychological reasons that a person might chose suicide.  In fact, I attribute most suicides to a malfunction because it is not natural.  So we need to advance medical science to help solve these problems.

        But what else helps?

        Certainly not bleeding hearts for those that chose to check out at the expense of the living.

        Before taking her own life at age 18, my always overly dramatic step-sister wrote her giant pity me letter.  Ironically a year before another of her schoolmates took her life and there was a tremendous follow up of activity and demonstrated “caring” from the community and school.  I have no doubt that this attention played a part in my step sister’s decision.

        I would prefer a different approach.  That approach is essentially to quickly acknowledge the life of the person, and then make the point that her/his decision was selfish and final… and then move on to caring about the living.  The conveyed message is that you quickly fade to a historical note and attention ONLY goes to those that chose to stay around.

        Say the person was selfish at that school event and you will probably prevent a future suicide.

        I don’t visit my step-sisters gravesite.  I don’t participate in the remembrance of her death.  She caused so much pain to the people that cared about her.  She was selfish.  I will remember her that way as I also forgive her for her giant mistake.

        I don’t care how much pain you are in, you have a responsibility to others.  And if you still go through with it, your memory should be held responsible.

    3. Frankly

      Terminal illness or significant illness is different because the loved ones are already suffering and that is a consideration.  If you love someone and that life is suffering from chronic and terrible pain, then suicide might be a mutual agreed upon decision.  We do it with our pets and it is out of love that we agree to end their suffering even as it causes us to suffer.  However, even if not a mutual decision, it still might be the right decision.  There are cases where family members deny disconnecting the tubes of another in pain… and this is selfish.   But ironically there are fewer cases of this type of situation, and fewer types of justified medical/health-related suicide.  Most suicides are people that are reasonably healthy but afflicted with some temporary depression.  And I would like them to understand that I think they would be tagged with a permanent “selfish” label if they end their own life prematurely.

      Think about it this way… a depressed guy shoots and kills a bunch of people.  How do you feel about that?

      Now the depressed guy shoots and kills himself.  How do you feel about that?

      And if you feel significantly different about both of these situations, why?  Because the dead are dead and the ONLY material impact is that caused the living.

      1. Tia Will

        And if you feel significantly different about both of these situations, why?  Because the dead are dead and the ONLY material impact is that caused the living.”

        This is true only if you do not consider the loss of potential. When someone is dead, one of the things that is lost is the potential of what they might have become and accomplished. This is largely what is being grieved in the case of a baby who dies in utero or who never takes its first breathe. The parents have not come to know this new being, but the potential is lost.

        Now in the case of the person who kills others, he is in effect robbing them of their potential futures. I feel very differently about that than I do about the individual who chooses to kill himself in which case it is ( at least in the case of an individual who does not have close ties with other humans ) only his own future potential that he is affecting. And in my view, our lives and futures are our own to choose. I agree with you that the issue becomes much more complicated when there are family members to consider, however, because of my career, I have seen a number of cases in which all concerned would doubtless have suffered less had the patient been granted a compassionate death much as you noted for our beloved animals.

        1. Frankly

          This loss of potential argument is a very slippery slope that the right-to-lifers would like to talk about.

          But in the case of suicide, once the person does the deed, they have eliminated their future potential which is their right and not yours or mine.  So there should be no lamenting it.

          1. Matt Williams

            they have eliminated their future potential

            That is speculation on your part. You have no way of knowing whether ending life as we know it on this plane of existence means that life’s future potential on other planes of existence ends as well.

        2. Frankly

          And making a scene about the loss of potential of dead people is really crying over spilled milk.  It is a complete waste of energy.  Better to spend it on the living or spend it trying to prevent the next suicide.

  19. Tia Will

    Miwok

    I reject his “expertise” because he has an agenda, not an open mind.”

    I found a very interesting take on the work of Dr. Wintermute. It is certainly true that he has an agenda. You may not be fully aware of what that agenda is. He is an Emergency Room physician who has spent much of his career dealing with the harms done by both the intentional and accidental use of weapons. His agenda is the reduction of gun injuries.

    While I agree that he can be very single minded, I do not believe that he is not open minded. He has spent a career both treating and researching these kinds of injuries. His perspective is of course therefore quite different from that of the average private citizen who believes that despite the majority of statistical evidence that he is safer with a gun in his home ( or purse ) than without it. It is also a very different, although certainly no more biased view than that of the manufacturers of weapons, who one could say have the “agenda” of profits,  nor is his agenda any more defined and focused than that of those whose objections to any form of gun control are based on fears that it is all a conspiracy to take away their guns.

    I can guarantee you that those of us who are engaged in an attempt to prevent gun related injuries are not of a single mind. Dr. Wintermute tends to focus on gun violence. My focus tends to be on safety and injury prevention. Of course, as a doctor who has seem plenty of gun injuries while staffing ERs prior to specializing, my perspective will be closer to his than to that of those who stand to gain financially by the manufacture, promotion and sales of ever more weapons and who have consistently blocked research into measures that would make those weapons safer. But I think it is very important to understand that there is a great deal of bias on both sides of this issue and to be aware that nearly everyone on both sides of the issue has an “agenda”.

    1. Miwok

      You may not be fully aware of what that agenda is. He is an Emergency Room physician who has spent much of his career dealing with the harms done by both the intentional and accidental use of weapons. His agenda is the reduction of gun injuries.

      I worked four years at the Med Center, where he plied his trade. I worked two years right beside the ER entrance, much changed now. Gunshots were a small percentage, which he does not address in the few studies I have read.

      The other two years I worked on the other side by Broadway, near an elementary school, and an additional six months in the Sacramento County Crime Lab. At dark every night, I moved my car in to a secure area, or beside my door for a quick getaway, when the gun shots got too close.

      These were not late at night, I rarely stayed past eight PM. Every night at dark I heard gunshots. I was glad I was right beside the Police Station the first two years.

      But just as many people write statistics claiming the DOJ’s numbers are wrong, like him, he has his own figures.. My first jobs in System Analysis were like this, making numbers prove points for the State Legislature to give school districts more money. It is a fine line between Marketing and Lying. Many studies like linked in this thread just display conflicting numbers, as you can read.

      All I know is we cannot leave home without being afraid and locking everything up. WHY? Who said it was okay to steal or rob? Now we let drug addicts out of jail to steal some more? One of them will end up dead, and guns will be blamed. Until you address that, let’s redirect the discussion to a more constructive area.

      1. Tia Will

        Miwok

        All I know is we cannot leave home without being afraid and locking everything up”

        I am really sorry to hear that you feel this way. I am not sure who you are including in the “we” in your statement as I certainly do not share these fears.  I have lived much of my life in much statistically more dangerous situations that where I live now. I have had my car broken into twice, and yet I have never lived my life in fear that I would be a victim of crime.

        I can see why, if you are living your life in ongoing fear that you might feel the need for a greater sense of security. However, once again, this article was not intended to be about gun violence or guns used in criminal activity. It was about prevention of accidental gun related injury and death. Since that was all I researched, that to me would be a more constructive area for discussion.

        1. Miwok

          Thank you for your reply, again we digressed. It is probably irritating some people they cannot arrest the two year old in the story. In fact, it is probably not something the kid may ever remember.

          I just would like to live somewhere the people are not always targets for others, and there is justice for the victims. Is spite of Victim Advocates, the talk never replaces the loss, even when it is money. I cannot even get them to go after the people who robbed me. The latest two were in Davis, and both the UC Davis and Davis PD told me to let it alone.

          It makes people want to dispense their own justice. Another topic on the Vanguard…

    2. Miwok

      Tia, I finally went to the link for Dr Winemute again and read his bio:

      http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/vprp/aboutus/wintemute.html

      Wintemute earned his medical degree in 1977 from UC Davis School of Medicine, where he also completed his residency in family medicine. In 1981, he was medical coordinator at Nong Samet Refugee Camp in Cambodia, a remote area that had only recently been liberated from the governance of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. Dr. Wintemute later returned stateside to merge his medical training with public policy, and earned an M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins in 1983.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nong_Samet_Refugee_Camp

      While he obviously has seen a lot of the world, I wonder how, after seeing what Pol Pot did to the people, he can advocate for gun control among civilians only? Before and after he was there, lots of violence from guns. Did he get threatened? It sure would be germane to the discussion of his “research” to evaluate his experience in this war zone.

      He often employs personal courage in his pursuit of data and insights, working undercover at gun stores, gun shows and pawn shops to investigate how illegal sales are made.

      PTSD? Anger at warlords? Guilt? I am not indicting him, just would love to talk with him about what his motivations are. He also admits, in his bio, about doing “undercover work” which would usually be construed as impersonating a law enforcement officer? See what I mean? Once you start down that path, you cannot stop sometimes.

      I hope this does not come across as character assassination.When I have been robbed, twice last year in fact, I wanted to exterminate the perp. Normal reaction.

      1. Tia Will

        Miwok

        I would strongly urge you to do just that and speak with him directly. I have spoken with Dr. Wintermute on several occasions and so have a perspective that is clearly different from yours. I would say that he has done, on many occasions, exactly what you advised ” Do your own research”. From our conversations, I believe his reference to “undercover work” to be to posing as a potential gun buyer, not as a police officer.  I do think that it is very important not to make judgements made on brief snippets of information. He is really a fascinating individual and although our perspectives and strategies are different, I do not doubt his sincerity or dedication to this important area of public health and safety.

  20. Tia Will

    Frankly

    People that commit suicide are not victims… they victimize others.”

    Can you not hold in your mind even the possibility that both might be true simultaneously ?  One aspect of depression and suicide as it was manifested at least in my son, is that he had no feelings left. One of the statements he made to me immediately before his hospitalization was that he did not love his family, and that he did not love himself.He was numb. He was without feeling and did not see any end in sight. This was not selfishness, it was biochemically induced feelings of isolation and hopelessness. This is very different from a bad case of the “flu” in which experience has taught us that there will be a limit to this feeling and that we will feel good again eventually.  Part of the pathology of depression is that the ill individual frequently has lost the ability to conceive of a future free of emptiness.

     

  21. Tia Will

    Frankly

    So there should be no lamenting it.”

    I think that it is counter productive to make generalizations about how others “should” process the significant events in their lives. Some people may need a period of grief or “lamenting” to help them heal and move on. Others may recover faster if they focus on what they perceive as the positive or good memories of the person who has committed suicide. So while I agree with you that the emotions are on the part of the living, I think it is presumptuous to say the least to decide how best for someone else to move on with their life just because you can only see one option.

    1. Frankly

      I agree with this to a point when it is direct family and friends.  I don’t agree that society and institutions should join in the pity-fest.  It demonstrates an attractive attention-getting opportunity that compels others to go through with their final selfish act.

  22. Frankly

    This is very different from a bad case of the “flu” in which experience has taught us that there will be a limit to this feeling and that we will feel good again eventually.

    Repeat that again and explain to me and everyone else why your son would not also believe this to be true with his depression.

    He had not been depressed all his life had he?  Just like I had not been sick with the flu all my life.

    I get the challenge.  I really do.  But there is an intellectual process that should be occurring… and I think it is in most people… that allow them to UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT THEY ARE FEELING OR NOT FELLING IS TEMPORARY.

    And I want to help them by letting them know that suicide is not an option.  Never is an option.  Should never be considered.  And if they chose it I will consider them selfish and weak and stupid and unworthy of empathy.  My message to them is that I care about them now, but not if they end it.  If they end it, I will forget about them and move on to people deserving of attention.  People that chose to live and work on their problems.  Maybe they won’t care.  My point is that I think many will care.  I think many would be saved with a sort of zero tolerance stance.

    I will admit to you a bit of a secret.  Every birthday of the suicides of my wife’s twin brothers when I have to watch her and her parents and her nieces and nephews struggle, I go outside and spit on the little memorial plaque in our garden and look upward and tell those boys how damn disappointed I am in them for causing so much long-lasting pain in their family for their fateful and selfish decisions.  It is my ceremony.  And if they were both alive today knowing what I know about them, I would be telling them in no certain terms that their memory and legacy would be crap if they ever did that to themselves because of what they would do to the ones that loved them.   I absolutely despise the tears shed for those two.

    1. Tia Will

      Frankly

      I get the challenge.  I really do.  But there is an intellectual process that should be occurring… and I think it is in most people… that allow them to UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT THEY ARE FEELING OR NOT FELLING IS TEMPORARY.”

      The fact that you seem oblivious to the difference between depression and other illnesses tells me that you clearly do not “get the challenge”.  There are mental conditions in which the neurotransmitters in the brain provide erroneous information such that the individual suffering from this illness no longer sees the world in the manner in which we conventionally understand it. In the case of anorexia, which my daughter had, the delusional belief is that they are too fat, even as they are dying from starvation. This is not a cry for help, or a conceit, or a play for attention, it is a biochemical disturbance in which they are unable to perceive reality in the same way that they did before or that we do.

      Your comment about my son not having been depressed all his life and therefore would obviously know that he would get better is absurd. A person who is diagnosed with cancer who had been entirely healthy up until that point has no idea whether or not they will get better or whether it will kill them. A well known component of a deep depression is hopelessness or the inability to see a better future which is a matter of neurotransmitter dysfunction, not a case of the blues that one can “just snap out of”. The following are a list of symptoms frequently encountered by those who have serious depression. One common theme amongst those who are seriously depressed is the feeling of hopelessness including the commonly expressed feeling that this feeling will never go away. Just because you have never experienced this does not mean that it does not exist. This is a disease whether or not it disgusts you. It is a biochemical, imageable disease, not a moral failing as you seem to believe.

      • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
      • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
      • Irritability, restlessness
      • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
      • Fatigue and decreased energy
      • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
      • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
      • Overeating, or appetite loss
      • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
      • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
      1. Don Shor

        But there is an intellectual process that should be occurring… and I think it is in most people… that allow them to UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT THEY ARE FEELING OR NOT FEELING IS TEMPORARY.”

        I would assume that would be the goal of cognitive therapy. I fail to see how subjecting them to lectures on morality or applying ‘disgust’ is likely to be effective in reducing suicidal thoughts. Meanwhile, they shouldn’t have access to guns. And neither should toddlers.

        1. Frankly

          I agree with the cognitive therapy point.  I disagree that I was advocating lectures.  But I also disagree with your opinion that developing and communicating zero tolerance attitudes would not help.  I think it would in some cases.

          Eliminating access to guns is a non-starter except for those with severe mental or emotional health problems diagnosed by a doctor. What percentage of suicides by gun are from people having a medical diagnosis of severe mental or emotional health problems?

          I agree that no toddler should ever be able to touch a gun.

      2. Frankly

        Fine, then go ahead and maintain your empathetic approach to suicidal people.  You have put them in a victim box and absolved them from being responsible for their decision.  It is the disease that is responsible in your opinion.

        Again, I completely disagree with this position of absolutism.  There are degrees of depression.  There are degrees of feeling hopelessness or worthlessness.  You seem to want to put everyone that feels depressed into a box of victim not responsible for their own decisions.

        I understand depression.  And I get the cognitive dysfunction that can lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.  I just think more people can power through it with some therapy.  But obviously not if they kill themselves first.  So I want the message to be that suicide is NOT AN OPTION.

        We are basically an electro-chemical machine and our mechanisms can go haywire or contract disease.  Just know that.  Know that the bad feelings that you might feel or the lack of good feelings are part of that electro-chemical process.  It might be genetic.  I might be viral.  It might be anything… but it is ALWAYS LIKELY TEMPORARY.   It is not right that you feel so bad that you are thinking about killing yourself.  Seek help to get the machinery working again.

        I think a message of zero tolerance for suicide and suicidal thoughts will save more people than will a pursuit of trying to keep guns out of the hands of people that decide they must commit suicide.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          So I want the message to be that suicide is NOT AN OPTION.”

          I think a message of zero tolerance for suicide and suicidal thoughts will save more people than will a pursuit of trying to keep guns out of the hands of people that decide they must commit suicide.”

          I find these very interesting arguments coming from a man who constantly insists with regard to relatively minor matters that no one should be able to “tell me what to do”. Yet when it comes to the most personal and private act of all, what one chooses to do with the remainder of their own life, you believe that you ( or society through laws or condemnation ) have the right to impose your religiously and morally held views on others. What you are essentially saying is that in order for you, or a family member or friend to “feel better” you would deprive an individual completely of their right to self determination regardless of their degree of suffering.

           

        2. Frankly

          Nope.  That is not it at all.  If you want to kill yourself, go right ahead.  And if you have a good enough reason I support your decision.  But if you check out early because you have a temporary bout of pity-me illness, I don’t want your death celebrated in public because it attracts the next suicide from the temporary pity-me illnesses.   Instead, I want it to be known that you will be considered immoral and selfish.  And I would quickly move to talk about the true victims of the suicide … those living souls that cared about the person that ended her/his life early.

          It is simple really…

          Take the following thought/statement:  “I feel so bad I just want to ________.”

          My thinking is that we need to make the option “kill myself” so distasteful, so maligned, so denigrated (again, unless justified from a permanent terminal circumstance) that many people that would otherwise do it would be turned off.  I think it should be right up there with “kill other people”.

          I think a lot of suicides are a basic “eff you” in the screwed up minds of the people committing the act.  They feel uncared for and they get some messed up notion that they will be so missed when they are gone that it motivates them, irrationally, to make it happen.  I would prefer at their eulogy there is talk about all the surviving friends and family and how they are suffering.  I don’t want to see a life celebrated when it is ended from an unjustified suicide that victimizes others.

          1. Matt Williams

            Frankly, you repeat multiple times the term/concept “victimizes others.” How are those people victimized by the death of the person? We all die. Death is part of the human condition. How does that human condition create victims? In psychology there is a term/concept called “voluntary victim.” It seems like your message should be to those people who are still living … “Don’t be a voluntary victim.”

            As I said in a prior post, as long as the perpetrator i alive and visiting active victimization/pain on the people you refer to as “victims” the aggregate amount of victimization/pain doesn’t stop. If the perpetrator ends his/her life the active victimization/pain on the people stops. From that point onward the only way the victimization stays alive is if the victims volunteer to keep it alive.

        3. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > I find these very interesting arguments coming from a man who

          > constantly insists with regard to relatively minor matters that no

          > one should be able to “tell me what to do”.

          Do you really “find these very interesting arguments” since most (but not all) Republicans and Conservatives like to tell people who they can marry, if they can buy the “morning after” pill and if they can have a MD help them end their life (just like most (but not all) Democrats and Liberals like to tell people what kind of bags they can use, how many rounds of ammo they can have in a magazine and what kind of lights they need to install when they remodel their kitchen)…

        4. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > We all die. Death is part of the human condition.

          > How does that human condition create victims?

          You might be different than most people but if your kid walked in to a water meeting and blew his brains out in front of you and everyone else I’m betting you would consider yourself a “victim” and not look at everyone in the room and say “We all die. Death is part of the human condition”.  A close relative that lost his son 20+ years ago (he didn’t see him actually kill himself) is still a mess and snaps in to tears at random times…

          1. Matt Williams

            Again, you are conflating the dispassionate act of ending life with the passionate drama/punishment. If my kid walked into a water meeting and tore off all his clothes that would be drama. If he climbed up in the rafters of the council building, that would be drama. And chances are that the drama would be the latest episode in a series of dramatic episodes. Each one would be designed to bring out a response from the audience. The difference between blowing his brains out and the other alternatives is that the former would bring the drama/punishment to an end. There would be no encore’s. There would be no next chapters in the long running drama. The curtain would have dropped. Any and all of the non-lethal dramatic acts would provide no comfort to the “audience” that one or more sequels was in the offing.

            So when you question whether I would look at everyone in the room and say “We all die. Death is part of the human condition” you are drawing a false equivalency. That straightforward dispassionate statement applies to the end of life … it does not apply to the drama, whatever form that dramatic expression takes.

            With respect to your relative who lost his son, he is voluntarily making himself a victim. When he bursts into tears he is the only actor on the stage. As Frankly would say in many other situations, he needs to practice self discipline and get on with the business of his own life.

  23. Tia Will

    What percentage of suicides by gun are from people having a medical diagnosis of severe mental or emotional health problems?”

    A critical point here is that as was pointed out by rdcanning, many of those who have severe problems with depression never seek or receive appropriate diagnosis or care. Therefore we have the situation where they are not assessed or treated but are still able to obtain guns easily. This has been an ongoing problem of adequate access to mental health services in our country both in terms of availability and in terms of stigmatization of those who do seek care.

    1. Frankly

      So let me understand… you want to ban guns from everyone because we don’t know when someone might use it for suicide?

      I am a logical person.  What are you actually recommending to reduce suicide?

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        So let me understand… you want to ban guns from everyone because we don’t know when someone might use it for suicide?”

        At this point, I do not know how to help you understand. I wrote very clearly about the limitations of my article and my recommendations. I went so far as to say clearly that I was not favoring any kind of ban. I spelled out clearly that  my concern with this article was  the prevention of unintentional ( or accidental if you like) gun related injuries. I even numbered my suggestions none of which said anything about a ban. And yet you seem adamant about turning this into a conversation about banning guns and then pretending it is what I want.

        This leads me to believe that there is nothing that I could ever do to “let you understand” since you are insisting on not comprehending, or believing the plain meaning of the words written ( and emphasized ) before you.

    2. hpierce

      You and Mr Canning probably know this, but based on my experience working as a volunteer on a Bay Area Suicide Prevention hotline, many of the callers I interacted with (Friday 7 PM to Saturday 7 AM shift), that I judged to be moderate to high lethality, WERE NOT hooked into professional MH services.  This was 1977-79.  The last call I had, before moving up here was, in my judgement VERY “high lethality”.  I contacted the public safety folks, asking for a ‘welfare check’… very rare… the client had no professional services, as far as I could tell, before that call.  Never heard about the outcome.  Once I moved back to Davis, realized I could not handle the ‘not knowing’, so have not volunteered on a hot-line since.

      Point is, there can be no diagnosis, if the person “has severe mental or emotional health problems” has not been plugged in to the MH system.

      1. Don Shor

        Here is a thought-provoking column which touches on many of the suicide issues that have been raised on this thread–motives, prevention, media ethics, and more. But I am afraid it could take this whole post even further off topic. So my suggestion is that those who have an interest in the suicide issue read this and think about it, and then perhaps David or, even better, one of the professionals here can write about that topic and we can continue this discussion.
        http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/03/cover-ups-and-concern-trolls-actually-it-s-about-ethics-in-suicide-journalism.html

        1. Frankly

          Good article.   I lays bare the dogmatic thinking of the two camps.  One is believing that external forces primarily cause the problems, and that external forces and services primarily can solve the problems.  These people would want to report on the details and pour out a message of caring and empathy after the death.  They would add more rules to speech codes and hate laws, and attempt to engineer society so that the minority of most sensitive and troubled are made safe.  The other is that external forces are primarily the factors of standard life, and that internal forces and actions primarily solve individual problems.  These people would want to demand restraint talking about the details and to deliver a general message that suicide is immoral, selfish and worthy of scorn.

          But both camps seem to agree that we need strong services to provide help to people so mentally, psychologically or emotionally ill that they would consider suicide.   And that is where we should focus our attention on.

           

  24. Don Shor

    There’s an old saying that “hard cases make bad law.” This incident in Idaho is so bizarre that I can’t fathom any practical law that would prevent it. Carrying a loaded handgun, with a bullet in the chamber, with a safety mechanism that apparently a two-year-old could disable? I just don’t get it. And given that Idaho is probably one of the least likely states to change their gun laws in response to anything at all, this story just reinforces the tragedy of stupid decisions. It would be just as logical to ban toddlers as to ban guns in response to this.

    1. Tia Will

      Don

      I appreciate your link and attempt to get us back on track.

       It would be just as logical to ban toddlers as to ban guns in response to this.”

      You however, seem to have fallen into the same trap as Frankly in thinking that anyone is using this instance to argue for a ban on guns. No one has suggested a ban on guns. How many times can I call “straw man” on this ?  While it is true that I would like to see regulation such as Rich proposed for each state to treat gun ownership and usage in much the same way as we now regulate automobiles, there are other options.

      For cases such as this one and the around 100 or so similar accidental shootings that occur annually in this country, what I would most suggest is the willingness of gun manufacturers to research and market the “smart technologies” that would make the gun unable to be fired by anyone other than its registered owner.  We require safety standards from pharmaceutical manufacturers, from automobile manufacturers, from toy makers. So why do we not make gun manufacturers as responsible for the safety of their own products. I honestly do not see a legitimate argument against consumers pushing for improvements in this area. It would not abridge any constitutional rights. No where in the constitution does it say that a gun must be able to be fired by anyone who comes along and gains access to it. It is clear to me that the constitutional right is limited to the gun owner. So what is the objection to developing these conceptually very simple, straight forward safety measures that would have the capability to save as many as 100 lives annually and would doubtless drop in price as they become more readily available just as we have seen with countless electronic products ?

      1. Miwok

        You however, seem to have fallen into the same trap as Frankly in thinking that anyone is using this instance to argue for a ban on guns. No one has suggested a ban on guns.

        I get almost daily emails from gun groups that have legislators propose these laws. Oddly enough, they are the same legislators over and over. Every month or two they have something new. Just give this one some time, and they will. In California, there is no such thing as too many laws.

        1. Tia Will

          Miwok

          ok, there are many people who would like to ban guns. What I object to is Frankly, or any one else telling me that this is my goal when I have directly and repeatedly stated that this was not the goal of this article and is not my goal in general. He knows this from multiple previous conversations but rather than simply making his own points, he insists on repeatedly telling me what I think. Pardon me if I sometimes get a little testy when he does it yet again.

      2. South of Davis

        Tia wrote:

        > what I would most suggest is the willingness of gun manufacturers

        > to research and market the “smart technologies”

        If you think left wing liberals should tell the can tell gun companies “to research smart technologies” would you be ready to “research prayer and abstinence with other MDs if the right wing conservatives tell you they want you to do it?

        No one is stopping you and anyone else from starting your own gun company to “research smart technologies”.  Keep in mind that with hundreds of MILLIONS of “non smart” guns already in the US I don’t think that your research will do much to save lives (especially since very few people will want to buy a “smart” gun that might not be “smart” enough to fire when a psycho like Daniel Marsh is coming after the owner with a knife)…

        1. Tia Will

          SOD

          “research prayer and abstinence with other MDs if the right wing conservatives tell you they want you to do it?”

          I would if I felt that the evidence was not already established. There are large amounts of evidence that demonstrate that prayer and abstinence are less effective than are the use of highly statistically effective contraceptives in the prevention of unintended pregnancy. If this had not already been conclusively studied I would certainly see it as area for research as I am not closed minded and am willing to go where the evidence takes me.

          No one is stopping you and anyone else from starting your own gun company to “research smart technologies”.”

          Actually this was a very clever statement on your part because while it is literally true the way it is written, it does not comport with the way in which research is actually done in this country. The NRA and its supporters have effectively blocked research on safer gun technology by not allowing governmental funding for safe gun technologies.

           

        2. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > I would if I felt that the evidence was not already established. 

          The gun companies would also pay to design the guns “If they felt that the evidence was not already established” that few people want them…

          > Actually this was a very clever statement on your

          > part because while it is literally true 

          It is a strange world where making a “true” statement is thought as “very clever”…

          > it does not comport with the way in which research

          > is actually done in this country.

          I have a “smart” phone, a “smart” thermostat, a “smart” fridge and some “smart” water in my home.  I don’t think that the government paid for the research to design any of them.

          >The NRA and its supporters have effectively blocked research

          > on safer gun technology by not allowing governmental funding

          > for safe gun technologies.

          Can you send a link to the law that would stop the Davis City Council or the California Legislature from giving you money to design a “smart” gun (or a purse with a locking “smart” zipper that woman with kids could put their guns in while they shopped at Wal-Mart)?

          P.S. Your bio at the top of the page says you are a “graduate of UCDMC”.  I always thought people “graduated” from the medical “School” not the medical “Center”.  Did you actually “graduate” from the medical “Center”?

           

  25. Anon

    Frankly: “I get the challenge.  I really do.  But there is an intellectual process that should be occurring… and I think it is in most people… that allow them to UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT THEY ARE FEELING OR NOT FELLING IS TEMPORARY.

    You are assuming that a person has the capacity to reason at the time s/he is contemplating suicide.  If that person is in the throes of a hormonal imbalance; is being crushed by the weight of personal circumstances, e.g. severe emotional and/or physical abuse, the removal of his/her entire support system as well as the loss of everything including health, etc.; has severe PTSD or extreme mental health issues, it is highly likely that the person is incapable of rational thought at that particular point in time.  In short, s/he loses their sense of perspective, and does not have the capacity to understand that the “feeling is temporary”.  And the feeling may not be temporary, by the way, but perpetually ongoing, so that continuing to survive becomes a living hell for that person, too painful.

    And I want to help them by letting them know that suicide is not an option.  Never is an option.  Should never be considered.  And if they chose it I will consider them selfish and weak and stupid and unworthy of empathy.  My message to them is that I care about them now, but not if they end it.  If they end it, I will forget about them and move on to people deserving of attention.  People that chose to live and work on their problems.  Maybe they won’t care.  My point is that I think many will care.  I think many would be saved with a sort of zero tolerance stance.”

    You are certainly free to be judgmental about people who commit suicide, and feel the way you do.  But it sounds like you need to forgive, that you are still grieving and holding on to your anger.  Trust me when I tell you that a person who becomes truly suicidal doesn’t give a da_n how you feel about them or whether you have zero tolerance for their stance.  His or her frame of mind is such that his/her thought processes and sense of perspective are very impaired, for whatever reason, be it situational, mental illness, medications, hormonal imbalance.  This person may think the world would be a much better place without them because s/he is such a rotten person, they deserve to be “punished” by death.

    1. Frankly

      This person may think the world would be a much better place without them because s/he is such a rotten person, they deserve to be “punished”

      Well if they are that rotten, then their punishment should be to stay around.  Checking out is not punishment.  It is weak and selfish and it victimizes others.  It is generally an extremely rotten act.

      You come at this with way too much absolutism for my comfort level.  I think very few people that are suicidal are so incapacitated.  That being the case, then we would have to eliminate therapy from consideration as being helpful since the people would be incapable of gaining introspection for alternative solutions to their problems.

      There is evidence that religious people, those believing in teachings that suicide is immoral, are less likely to commit suicide.  This flies in the face of so much absolutism.

      This has nothing to do with forgiveness.  Another way to look at forgiveness is to forget.  A third way is to rationalize the emotional response and be at peace with it.  I forgive those that victimized my family by committing suicide while also holding on to the belief that they performed an immoral and selfish act.  Since they are no longer living by their own choice, I purposely do not think about them.  I do not celebrate their death nor their life.  I focus on those living and those that died wanting to live.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Checking out is not punishment.  It is weak and selfish and it victimizes others.  It is generally an extremely rotten act.

        You come at this with way too much absolutism for my comfort level. “

        And to me, it is you who are arguing an absolutist position. It is you who is painting the picture of moral depravity of all suicides.

        I am well aware that there is a very broad range, sub types and severity of the condition we generalize as “depression”. I would like to share the  just one of the patients that I have treated over the years for post partum depression. Unfortunately for the patient, I was very young in my career at the time and did not have the experience to know all the right questions and to make an accurate assessment of the severity of her condition. Luckily for she and her family, her husband was being very diligent on the home front and so a potential tragedy was narrowly averted.

        What you may not know is that one form of post partum depression manifests as a post partum psychosis. I misdiagnosed the patient with a post partum depression, began medication and made the appropriate referral for therapy. I did ask all the appropriate questions about suicidal or homicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming the baby. She truthfully replied “no”. What I did not think to ask her is whether she was experiencing visual or auditory hallucinations and she did not choose to share this information with me spontaneously. Luckily she had left a note for her husband stating that Jesus had told her to take the baby and leave. He was able to glean enough information from the circumstances of her departure to realize where she was headed and was able to catch up with her a few states east. Fortunately Jesus had suggested a road trip, not that she kill the baby and/or herself. That was a matter of luck, nothing more. Do you honestly believe that this woman so completely under the control of her hallucinations , should be considered “weak, selfish, and extremely rotten” if the act she had committed was suicide rather than abduction ?

        I would suggest that perhaps it would be wise if you were to learn a little more about the range of manifestations of the condition that we label “depression” before making such sweeping and “absolutist” statements about the morality of those who make this choice.

        1. Frankly

          You use one example to argue away the point I was making about your absolutism about the victim-ology of suicide cases?

          Go back and read what I have wrote.  I acknowledged all the variety of cases.  What you are failing to acknowledge is that there are many that are simply temporary setbacks that need a dose of coping skills.  And those coping skills can be propped up by a certain social and cultural negative stigma about suicide.

          Wrap your arms around each suicide case and you encourage the next person having a temporary pitty-me fit.

          Emotions can certainly be destructive.

          1. Matt Williams

            Go back and read what I have wrote. I acknowledged all the variety of cases. What you are failing to acknowledge is that there are many that are simply temporary setbacks that need a dose of coping skills.

            Frankly, in asserting the statement above you are making a leap of faith that the life we have here on this plane of existence is better than the life each of us have when we move to the next plane existence. There is no evidence that such a leap of faith is justified

  26. Anon

    Frankly: “You come at this with way too much absolutism for my comfort level.  I think very few people that are suicidal are so incapacitated.

    Ironically, who is being absolute here?  You insist that “very few people that are suicidal are so incapacitated”.  How could you possibly know?  See the statistical trends below at the end of this post.

    Frankly: “Well if they are that rotten, then their punishment should be to stay around.”

    Stay around and be a burden to loved ones?  That may be the way a suicidal person is thinking.  It is not particularly rational, but it might be how someone who is suicidal is processing their thoughts.

    Frankly: “This has nothing to do with forgiveness.  Another way to look at forgiveness is to forget.

    Forgiveness does not necessarily mean one “forgets”.  Forgiveness means to forgive someone for not being perfect, for making a terrible mistake, for being human.  Forgiveness does not mean condoning suicide as a solution to one’s problems.  Forgiveness means to “give up resentment against or stop wanting to punish for an offense or fault; to relent in being angry or in wishing to exact punishment for an offense or fault”.  Nowhere does the definition of forgiveness mention “forgetting”.

    Frankly: “I forgive those that victimized my family by committing suicide while also holding on to the belief that they performed an immoral and selfish act.

    This is where we have a basic disagreement.  I do not view the commission of suicide as “selfish” or “immoral”.  For me, it is 1) an act of desperation at a time when the person, for whatever reason (hormonal, situational, mental illness/PTSD), could not think rationally; 2) it was more painful for that person to live than to die, so much so that suicide seemed like the only way to end their incomprehensible anguish; 3) often the suicidal person is convinced the world would be a better place without them because they have in their estimation screwed things up so badly for themselves and others; or they have an irrational belief they need to be “punished” by death (I don’t deserve to be on this earth) for screwing up so badly.

    I also want to caution against lumping all suicides together.  Their is a huge difference between a new mother who commits suicide because of postpartum depression; versus someone who commits suicide after killing another.  Nor do I believe we should in any way encourage suicide as a solution to someone’s problems.  But I am not in favor of condemning those that commit suicide, and further the pain of loved ones by insisting the person who committed suicide not be buried in consecrated ground.  IMO continuing to “punish” someone who has committed suicide by pretending they never existed is punishing the living who knew the suicidal person.  A friend of mine’s son committed suicide at age 19.  She took great comfort from talking to me about her son – she did not want to “forget” him.  “Forgetting”/ignoring someone who committed suicide cannot possibly hurt the dead person – they are deceased and beyond feeling; it can only hurt the living.

    And I would say it does not sound like you have “forgotten” your step-sister who committed suicide, but carry a great deal of anger around you cannot let go of.  I can understand why you would feel angry at her foolish choice.  But has that anger helped you?  Has your anger stopped anyone else from committing suicide?  You might be better served by volunteering your time at a suicide hotline, to try and talk the desperate out of going that route.

    What is interesting to me is some of the statistics:  that suicide is highest among teens and the elderly, those still forming their brains and subject to hormonal surges, and those whose brains are becoming impaired from old age from all sorts of causes such as medical issues, dementia, Alzheimers.  Men are more likely to commit suicide than women, whereas women are more likely to attempt suicide.  Those who are not married are more likely to commit suicide – because of a lack of a support system I’m sure.  Being a parent lowers the risk of suicide, since children give one a high sense of responsibility and reason to live.  Whites and Native Americans have the highest suicide rates; but the rate of suicide has been increasing for African-Americans.  Industrialized countries are more likely to have a higher rate of suicide, altho the U.S. has a moderate rate of suicide.  Economic status does not seem to be a predictor of suicide, but unemployment increases the risk of suicide.  And here is what was said by Community Counseling Services, Inc. about religion: “Religiosity seems to have a protective effect against suicide. Exactly which religion(s), during what ages/developmental periods, and among which ethnicities remain unanswered questions. Many of the studies of the relationship between religion and suicide have been too small, contradictory, or flawed to make overall conclusions. However, research suggests that in the United States, areas with higher percentages of individuals without religious affiliation have correspondingly higher suicide rates. Involvement with a religion may provide a social support system, a direct way to cope with stressors, a sense of purpose and/or hope, and may lead to a stronger belief that suicide is wrong. Religiosity also seems to be related to other demographic factors; religious North Americans are much less likely than nonreligious people to abuse drugs/alcohol and to divorce (which are both associated with increased suicide risk).

    Just some food for thought.

     

    1. Frankly

      I appreciate your counterpoints.  But yours is exactly the type of thinking that I believe contributes to greater numbers of suicides.  You paint all those that commit suicide as a victim.  I paint some, even many, as simply temporarily depressed murderers of themselves.

      And getting down to brass tacks here, I have no idea what you or Tia advocate for to reduce the rate of suicide.  My desire it to develop a zero tolerance for it.   You then argue back in absolute terms about why ALL suicides are committed by victims unable to rationalize their decisions.  That is BS.  I think you know it is BS.  Because there are thousands of stories about people thinking about committing suicide that change their mind and go on to have a long and satisfied life.  There is your evidence of rationalization.

      You want to remove guns, or accept Tia’s fanciful idea that we can use technology to lock them up, so that we remove the convenience of the opportunity.  Well what about calling suicide a hate crime to remove the convenience of a warm and fuzzy blanket of bleeding heart empathy?

      I think you and Tia are missing the point here and conflating the issues.

      Please just stop glorifying the act of suicide and the people that commit suicide because it influences others to do the same.  But by all means give every bit of attention you have available to those that chose to live and ask for help, or indicate that they need help.

      This is all I am asking.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        I have no idea what you or Tia advocate for to reduce the rate of suicide.”

        1. Of course not. Because, as I made clear over and over again,my article was not about suicide prevention. If was about the prevention of gun related accidental injuries. I wrote about a number of measures that could be taken as did Rich. You have chosen to make this about suicide and true to my commitment to answer comments made about my own articles, I have responded.

        2, “Please just stop glorifying the act of suicide and the people that commit suicide because it influences others to do the same”

        Neither Anon nor I made any comment that “glorifies” suicide. If you disagree, please post the comment that you feel is a “glorification”. Just because you cannot fathom the depth and breadth of another persons experience, does not give you the right to place the blame on someone else whose ideas you cannot understand. This idea of “glorification” is all in your own head and I refuse to be labeled with your nonsense.

      2. Matt Williams

        Frankly, by definition “Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human” When a person ends their own life, who is the “another human being”?

          1. Matt Williams

            Rich, the amount of moralistic trappings in that definition would fill the Pacific Ocean.

            In addition the definition you cite suffers from the logical fallacy of Begging the Question because its conclusion (murder) is among its premises (self-murder). It explicitly assumes what it is trying to prove. Such an argument “begs the question” and fails as a proof because it can only be judged to be sound by those people who already accept its conclusion.

        1. hpierce

          Rich’s contribution notwithstanding, suicide is homicide, in fact, one could say the perfect definition of homicide (to kill one of one’s own?). There are many shades of legal definitions of homicide, including self-defense (not likely, in my view, related to suicide), justifiable (just can’t see that), manslaughter, etc.

          Survivors of the suicide of others who are close to them often experience anguish, guilt, etc.  That cannot, in my opinion be ignored, whether the loved ones “should” feel that way or not.  Suicide is what it is, and the feelings of those close to the situation are what they are.

          People could be said to commit suicide in many ways — drugs/alcohol, reckless behavior, failing to go to a physician when they know they are ‘not right’ (physically and/or mentally/emotionally), etc.

          Please, no one should tell anyone how to “feel” when suicide affects them.

          And can we all lose the terms “successful”, “unsuccessful”, “failed”, etc. when discussing suicidal actions?  Doesn’t seem to be appropriate to use those terms, in my view.  Not sure what adjectives I’d use instead.  Not sure we need adjectives.

          Despite the classic verses from M*A*S*H theme song, suicide is not “painless” to loved ones (although it often “brings on many changes”).

          1. Matt Williams

            hpierce, a quick perusal of the definitions of homicide also call for two people … “Homicide is the act of a human being killing another human being” … “the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another; murder” … “Although the term homicide is sometimes used synonymously with murder, homicide is broader in scope than murder. Murder is a form of criminal homicide; other forms of homicide might not constitute criminal acts. These homicides are regarded as justified or excusable.” … “a killing of one human being by another”

            I have found no definitions that include the singularity of suicide.

        2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          A bit of trivia about that song in M*A*S*H: The lyrics for “Suicide is Painless” were penned by the 14-year-old son of the film’s director, Robert Altman. Altman later said that the royalties from that song which his son earned were worth a lot more than he earned for directing the movie. Altman said he tried to write the lyrics himself, but it didn’t work. He wanted something “stupid.” So he turned to the stupidest person he knew: his 14-year-old kid.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-BtquTKw78

        3. hpierce

          Good information, Rich.  Love it.  Am assuming your intention was not to equate “suicide” with ‘trivia’.  Based on your past posts, definitely not. Only reason I post this is to clarify to ‘infrequent’ readers that we don’t think the issues related to suicide are seen to be trivial.

          I may have been mis-understood when I said (and say again) that if the Sandy Hook murderer and the assassin of the two officers in New York wanted to end their lives, they should have done so before they killed the innocents.

          1. Matt Williams

            Your words “we don’t think the issues related to suicide are seen to be trivial” does a brilliant job of illustrating how we conflate the life ending simplicity of suicide as an act with the drama/theatrics that often have a substantial and often recurring history prior to any contemplation of ending one’s life. Frequently the desired goal of the drama/theatrics is very specifically not to actually achieve end of life, but rather to achieve only a passing acquaintance with end of life.

  27. Tia Will

    SOD

    You stated previously with regard to a different post that you were not being sarcastic. Since I am quite sure that you are aware that the Davis CC does not have the kind of money to fund extensive research on any major equipment regardless of whether related to guns or any other device, I can only assume that you are being sarcastic now. If not then, certainly with your PS question.

    I make a diligent effort to try to respond to sincere questions regarding any piece that I have written or any genuine question about my experience and credentials. I do not believe that anything that you wrote about in that post meets those criteria.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I make a diligent effort to try to respond to sincere questions

      Yet you won’t answer my question asking for info on any law that will prevent ANY government entity (I mentioned the Davis CC since you made a blanket statement of all government) from funding smart gun research after you seem to know about some law when you write: “The NRA and its supporters have effectively blocked research  on safer gun technology by not allowing governmental funding for safe gun technologies”

      You also didn’t bother to answer when I asked:
      “Your bio at the top of the page says you are a “graduate of UCDMC”.  I always thought people “graduated” from the medical “School” not the medical “Center”.  Did you actually “graduate” from the medical “Center”?”

      1. Matt Williams

        SoD, medical education credentials are reported with multiple steps. For instance, on Kaiser’s website the physician I chose to be my primary is listed with the following credentials

        Credentials
        Medical Education – MD, UC Los Angeles, School of Medicine
        Residency – UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA
        Board Certification – Family Medicine, American Board Of Family Medicine

        So he graduated from UCLA and he graduated from UCDMC and he is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. That is much the same convention as you would see in other disciplines. My wife, for instance, in her graduate level (post Bachelors) studies has graduated from Columbia University, has graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and has graduated from UCD.

  28. Anon

    Frankly: “You paint all those that commit suicide as a victim.”

    Here is what I said: “I also want to caution against lumping all suicides together.  Their is a huge difference between a new mother who commits suicide because of postpartum depression; versus someone who commits suicide after killing another.  Nor do I believe we should in any way encourage suicide as a solution to someone’s problems.

    Frankly: “I paint some, even many, as simply temporarily depressed murderers of themselves.

    First of all, depression may be a lifelong struggle, not just a temporary condition, especially for those suffering mental illness/PTSD; drug addiction; hormonal imbalance; chronic pain.

    Secondly, you need to look at the definition of murder versus suicide.

    Def’n of murder: “The killing of another person without justification or excuse, especially the crime of killing a person with malice aforethought or with recklessness manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.

    Def’n of suicide: “The act of intentionally killing oneself.”

    From wikipedia: “By the early 1990s only two states still listed suicide as a crime, and these have since removed that classification.”

    Frankly: “And getting down to brass tacks here, I have no idea what you or Tia advocate for to reduce the rate of suicide.  My desire it to develop a zero tolerance for it.   You then argue back in absolute terms about why ALL suicides are committed by victims unable to rationalize their decisions.  That is BS.

    There are as many changes that need to be made in policies and procedures in this country as there are suicides.  Every case is unique.  For instance, a woman who suffers from post partum depression and wants to die will need different help than someone who has a drug addiction and desires to do away with themselves.  The stigma you want to place on those who have suicidal thoughts prevents them from seeking the very help that they so desperately need.  You want them to feel ashamed of what they are feeling, which closes them off emotionally to getting help.  And I never, ever said “ALL suicides are committed by victims“, and gave a specific example where that is not the case – someone who commits suicide after murdering someone else.

    Frankly: “You want to remove guns, or accept Tia’s fanciful idea that we can use technology to lock them up, so that we remove the convenience of the opportunity.

    No I don’t, and I made that clear in my post.  I don’t think technology to lock up guns is necessarily going to work to prevent suicides.  I’m not sure what will work, because it will depend on each individual case.

    Frankly: “I think you and Tia are missing the point here and conflating the issues.

    Who is conflating issues?

    Frankly: “Please just stop glorifying the act of suicide and the people that commit suicide because it influences others to do the same.”

    Where have either one of us “glorified the act of suicide”?  We are just not willing to condemn it.  Because to condemn suicide is dismissive of the person and their emotional state at a time when they are having difficulty “seeing straight”.  I want those who have suicidal thoughts to believe they can confide in someone and get the help they need, rather than stay silent for fear of being ostracized by those who have “zero tolerance” for those who think about suicide.

  29. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Don’t think anyone said anything negative about anyone who THOUGHT  about suicide”

    While I do not presume to know what Frankly’s thoughts or intent were when he wrote the following, it certainly sounded to me as though he was including suicidal thoughts in his zero tolerance attitude towards the issue of suicide.

    I think a message of zero tolerance for suicide and suicidal thoughts will save more people than will a pursuit of trying to keep guns out of the hands of people that decide they must commit suicide”

    1. Frankly

      I need to clarify that because it isn’t really accurate for my opinion.  I understand that that suicidal thoughts are generally the symptom of health issues and absolutely do not want there to be any greater reason for a person to hide those thoughts and have any greater reason to not seek help.

      What I meant was to develop a common message that suicide is absolutely NOT an acceptable act.  That having a thought of suicide is an alarming cause for action to seek help.   Like I have said, I put it up there with thoughts of murdering others.  It is wrong to murder, but having the thought or impulse to do so should be a call to seek help.

      When a person’s mind goes haywire enough to consider suicide, I want there to be significant negative imprinting around the act of suicide.  I want their subconscious to recoil over the thought of it.  I want them to be compelled to seek other remedies simply from a sense that suicide is immoral and one of the most socially unacceptable things a person can do… right up there with murdering another.

      I understand that each family and each family member is going to have to deal with loss from suicide in their own way.  The overwhelming sadness and guilt cannot just be pushed away.  And memories cannot be shut down.

      But you can make the same case for someone that murders.   Thinking about a kid that goes off the rails and shoots several people before taking his own life or being gunned down by police… assuming he was from a loving family, how would his family feel about him after the act?  Would they still love him?  Would they have positive memories of times before?  Would they morn his loss?

      That would be a private and individual matter.

      But what I am writing about is the public orientation to suicide.  The tendency to refer to it with understanding and empathy.  The ceremony around it.  The lack of labeling it an immoral act.

      That is my point about zero tolerance.

      A kid accidentally brings a pocket knife or a peanut butter sandwich to school, or utters a word not allowed and we have zero tolerance for it.  That same kid commits suicide and the school auditorium is filled and his friends tearfully talk to the student body about what a great person he was and how he will be missed.  I would prefer that there is not any public ceremony.  I would prefer that he be buried in a private funeral in a special part of the cemetery reserved for those that commit suicide and his record of attending the school be a small footnote of the kid that did one of the worst acts of immorality.

      The bottom line for me is that I have endless empathy for anyone ill and needing help, but it ends when they commit suicide.  Because they are dead and checked out and just did a giant ef-you to everyone that cared about them.  I see them as a murderer too.

      1. hpierce

        Ahhh, yes, and that adolescent in Sacramento, who ended his own life due his “selfish” reaction to prolonged taunting by classmates should have no sympathy accorded his memory, “Because they are dead and checked out and just did a giant ef-you to everyone that cared about them.  I see them as a murderer too.”.  Nice.

        1. Frankly

          That’s right hpierce.  Find other remedies.  And please don’t support the pouring out of public sympathy and empathy for someone that murders himself over a temporary situation that has other remedies else you want to add to the encouragement of the next person having a similar problem that this is an attractive and acceptable way to “solve” his/her problem.

          I think you and others in this debate are failing to move your mind to the simple fact that dead people don’t benefit from sympathy and empathy.   Only the living matter.   Demonstrations of sympathy and empathy for dead people is, in fact, irrational except for how it might help us selfishly feel better about the tragedy.  But if our response adds one fraction of a percent of greater interest in the next person to do the same, we have a moral obligation to moderate our response.

           

      2. Matt Williams

        The bottom line for me is that I have endless empathy for anyone ill and needing help, but it ends when they commit suicide. Because they are dead and checked out and just did a giant ef-you to everyone that cared about them. I see them as a murderer too.

        Frankly, when a bank processes a loan application and decides not to grant the loan, is the bank giving a giant ef-you to the loan applicant? No. The bank is simply saying that it doesn’t want to continue the loan process beyond the end of the application process. When a person chooses to end their life they are saying that they don’t want to continue their existence on this plane of existence. You appear to be stating that every person who chooses to end their life is doing so in order to punish someone or multiple someones. Some people simply want to go quietly into the sweet night.

        1. Frankly

          Matt – That is not a very good analogy.  I am not talking absolute here, but most suicides devastate loved ones.  If you are truly alone and there is nobody to be hurt by your loss, then there is no real ef you.  But I don’t know any suicides that fit that profile, do you?

          1. Matt Williams

            Yes, lots and lots. My uncle was just such a suicide. There was not a shred of ef you involved. He just knew it was time to move on to the next plane of existence. His attempt, which unfortunately was not successful and left him with permanent brain damage due to carbon monoxide poisoning, was quiet. He chose a remote location so that the family would not be the ones discovering his dead body, rather the police would.

            The loved ones have the ability to control/deal with any devastation they feel. In effect the arguments that you have been putting forward are only one side of a Janus face. You have focused on the selfishness if the person dying prior to their suicide, but you are ignoring the selfishness of the people you describe as the “loved ones” after the suicide. Why are you applying that double standard to being strong?

  30. Tia Will

    I would like for a moment to go back to the basics of my article which was about means of prevention of accidental gun related deaths.

    There seems to be universal agreement that toddlers should not have access to guns. There seems to be universal agreement that since humans are not perfect, mistakes will be made.

    There seems to be universal agreement that in other areas of public safety such as cars, pharmaceuticals, toys, regulation and responsibility on the part the manufacturers for the safety of their products, and yet we are staunchly resistant to the same measures applied to gun manufacturers.

    In the case of keeping toddlers ( or children under whatever age is deemed appropriate, one poster recommended 12 ) I am wondering what would be the objection to the development of safer gun technologies. I am also wondering what would be the objection to limiting the ability of a gun to be fired by anyone but its legal owner ? One poster had speculated that there may be no market for such guns. And yet, I know at least one potential purchaser ( myself) who would consider the purchase of a gun if I knew that if it were to be stolen or taken away from me, it could not be fired. I can envision that gun owners with small children, or family members of those with significant mental disorders might find this an attractive feature.

    I cannot see any reason not to put pressure on gun manufacturers to develop such technologies just as automobile manufacturers needed pressure to install first seat belts and then air bags into their products or as pharmaceutical distributors were pressured to use child proof caps on most medications. We as a society have many precedents in which we have chosen safety over convenience and the preconceived notions of what people would did not desire or would not buy. I really do not see the prevention of accidental gun injury and death , not through bans, but through continuing development of safety features as any different.

  31. Anon

    Tia, do you own a smart phone with finger ID technology?  If yes, then you should know that in cold weather, if the hand is slightly sweaty, etc. the finger ID technology does not work.  If I were in Alaska, and threatened by a bear, I wouldn’t want to have finger ID technology thwart my attempt to shoot a marauding bear!  I’m not necessarily against finger ID technology in the use of guns, I’m just not sure it is perfected enough to be warranted at the moment.

  32. Tia Will

    Anon

    from what I have read, the technology is far from perfect. However Volvo is not out of business because their air conditioning systems do not work adequately in the desert of Arizona. My call is for more research, making the technology that is ready available in the areas in which it has been shown to be effective and having standard technology available where the safer products have not been demonstrated to be effective. Would you have an objection to this approach ?

     

    1. Frankly

      It is already being developed, called “smart guns” but as Anon points out there are significant limitations to making it feasible for new firearms let alone to retrofit old firearms.  But the engine of free-market enterprise and innovation really does not need anything else at this point.  The pursuit of profit is driving it as fast and as hard as it can be.

      But see this article for a good report on the challenges…

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/josephsteinberg/2014/05/04/smartguns/

  33. Biddlin

    Frankly
    January 6, 2015 at 1:26 pm
    LOL.  And you don’t?”

    Not on my good days and neither did that popular Nazarene preacher you and others on here give lip service to.I’ve had close friends and and the child of in-laws take their own lives. It is awful, for everybody and life was obviously overwhelming for the VICTIM, yes Frankly, a little boy driven to suicide for what ever reason is a victim.A friendless soul who takes their own life in a moment of desperation is worthy of compassion. Key Riced, man it costs you nothing more than a little reflection on your own good fortune in having someone who will share your fears and doubts, non-judgmentally and hold you up when you cannot stand. Even a liberal pantheistic hedonist knows this is just Christian charity.
    ;>)/

  34. Tia Will

    Frankly

    I think emotional intelligence is impossible to teach.”

    I do not share this belief however, it is an interesting thought to me. If emotional intelligence is impossible to teach, would it not follow that it is also “impossible to learn”. That would imply to me that one is either born with it, or not depending on one’s unique set of “God given” attributes. It would only be one small step further to consider that nothing that the society could do ( such as a zero tolerance stand) would affect suicide susceptible individuals and therefore they should be neither judged nor denigrated for being the way that they were made.

     

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