It had to happen, as few gun control advocates appear able to allow a respectable time to pass before they begin dissecting Rick Warren’s son’s suicide. And on Thursday that talk took a turn that is just plain wrong, with one headline blaring that “Mental Illness Didn’t Kill Rick Warren’s Son. A Gun Did.” Technically, they’re partially right, but it still took mental illness to motivate him to use the gun in the first place, right?
Gun control advocates have the right to cite chapter and verse about the statistical correlation between suicides where a gun was used to take a life versus suicides where a gun was not the tool used. However, quoting misleading statistics serves no good purpose, and having the conversation at one of the most vulnerable moments in a grieving family’s life isn’t always in good taste.
Since the media insists on doing both, let’s take a look at the Center for Disease Control’s national numbers for suicide deaths for a clearer picture. According to the CDC, of the ten leading causes of death in the U.S., death by suicide wasn’t ranked number one for any age group. In the age group in which Matthew Warren, 27, found himself (ages 25-34), the second leading cause of death is suicide, making the risk factor of age more pertinent than the tool used to take a life.
In the CDC’s National Suicide Statistics at a Glance page, the most recently published data shows that firearm suicides account for more deaths in the elderly than in people aged 25 to 64, which is the age group Rick Warren’s son’s suicide would have fallen into at the CDC. So having a firearm in the home isn’t the danger, the age of the potential suicidal person is, according to the CDC’s stats.
Another interesting fact as well from the CDC reports is that males in the 25-64 range are no more in danger of committing suicide due to a firearm in the home than males 10 to 24 years old, with the difference between the two being almost too slight to notice.
Unfortunately, the Bloomberg article talking about this issue neglected to tell the readers how many suicides were due to ingesting poison or pills and/or using other weapons, such as knives and ropes, in order to take one’s own life; but they may have an agenda in what they report, like seeking gun control, right?
Just learning the number of deaths due to firearms (and then learning that only half of that number were even suicide related) makes the issue too cloudy to really say one way or the other if firearms are a significant factor in suicide deathÂ—or just one in a line of many factors, like mental illness. But the CDC is an unbiased source of information, so maybe looking at their stats instead of headlines is a smarter way to decipher this news topic. And any medical examiner will say that Matthew Warren’s suicide had a cause and a method, and logically the cause was mental illness and depression and the method was a firearm. But either way, it was a tragedy and the family deserves some peace now from it.
Photo credit: Saddleback Church via CNN