Facts and Figures
What follows in this section is a breakdown of firearms deaths; including all causes. This means I’ll present facts and figures for suicide, homicide, defensive use and accidental/negligent discharges.
My intent is present a very clear picture of the entire problem, not just the myopically skewed picture the mass media likes to paint. For their part, their purpose in life is to make money, which takes precedence over reporting the truth. They’ve perfected the art of sensationalism, as a means to gaining your patronage, which means they are not to be trusted.
I would also like to point out that the facts and figures presented date back to 2014, as that was the most recent set of complete figures I could find. If anyone can find more recent figures, I would be most grateful. I’m writing this in between interruptions from my kids.
(Note: In the interest of time, the facts and figures will be cut and pasted, as much as I possibly can. No worries, I’ll also include the web address, so y’all can verify my assertions.)
According to the website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSC), the annual suicide facts and figures are as follows:
1. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
2. Each year 42,773 Americans die by suicide.
3. For every successful suicide, there are 25 attempts.
4. Suicide costs the U.S. $44 billion annually.
5. The annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 12.93 per 100,000individuals.
6. Men die by suicide 3.5x more often than women.
7. On average, there are 117 suicides per day.
8. White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2014.
9. Firearms account for almost 50% of all suicides.
10. The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular. [ https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/ ]
Let’s take a moment and concentrate on fact #9, firearms account for nearly 50% of all suicides. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the actual number of suicides by firearms was 21,334, which corresponds to their assertion that it’s “nearly 50%”.
Now, we turn to figures provided by the CDC for the number of homicides. According to their figures, the total number of homicides nationwide was 15,809, of which 10,945 involved a firearm. Note that the total number of firearms-related homicide is considerably lower than that of the firearms-related suicide. This is important.
Defensive Gun Use (DGU)
Next on the list is a phenomenon known as Defensive Gun Use, or DGU. This is one of those figures that’s really difficult to nail down, simply because it’s hugely underreported and most of them don’t result in a fatality.
A DGU is defined as any incident in which a person used a firearm in a defensive manner. This definition doesn’t necessarily restrict itself to just defensive shootings. In fact, it could include incidents in which the presence of a firearm deescalated a situation, forestalling an act of violence.
Estimates vary according to the source, with some as high as 2.5 million annually. Still, one must take into account that the majority of those incidents didn’t result in the defender exercising deadly force.
In fact, as an example, of my own four DGU incidents, three were deescalated when the aggressor noticed that I was carrying a handgun on my hip. The fourth, and most recent, involved me drawing my weapon from its holster, but not pointing it at the aggressor. In all four, the aggressors quickly realized that they all had other places they needed to be and went there.
To date, I’m proud to say that I haven’t taken a human life, and I hope to keep that streak alive. I carry a pistol because I can’t predict the future with enough accuracy to know who wants to end said streak.
According to the CDC 2014 figures, there were 515 “Legal intervention” deaths, which I’m taking to mean they were self-defense; making it seem rather rare. However, the report I’ll be linking to would suggest that DGU might occur with far greater frequency. Given that that the DGU are more apt to be of the non-lethal variety, it’s easy to see why some people would rather discount DGU as a factor. http://www.pulpless.com/gunclock/kleck1.html
This is also important, though it might not seem so now.
Especially this year, it seems like there have been a great many stories of someone’s child dying from an accidental gunshot wound, usually due to the fact that an adult left a fully-loaded firearm unsecured. It goes without saying that this isn’t just unacceptable, but that it’s also several orders of magnitude beyond horrifying.
In fact, if the news is to be lent any credence at all, there must be thousands of people dying from accidental/negligent gunshot wounds each year. According to the CDC, however, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Their 2014 figures, show that there were a total of 585 accidental deaths related to firearms, making this the second smallest number of deaths; after DGU. Generally speaking, this is a pretty typical number.
Now, I would like to clarify something. I have a military mindset. In the Army, we call them ND, or Negligent Discharge. We call it such, because they generally involve negligence in one form or another.
To us, an accident implies something that was unavoidable or unforeseeable. Someone leaving a fully-loaded firearm where a child can get to it, or someone choosing to ignore the rules for the safe and responsible handling of a firearm, would count as negligent.
This is why I use the term accidental/negligent discharge. The CDC lists them as “Accidental discharge”, whereas I consider them acts of negligence and monumental stupidity.
To recap, in 2014, there were 21,334 suicides, 10,945 homicides and 585 accidental deaths involving firearms. That comes out to 32,864 people who died from gunshot wounds nationwide.
When one takes an objective look at these numbers, it’s clear that the first step in reducing this number would be to become an expert in suicide prevention. In that regard, you would be doing something proactive and practical to reduce the number of deaths due to firearms.
To that end, here are a few resources:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention https://afsp.org
Suicide Prevention Resource Center http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#
For my brothers and sisters in arms, both past and present, there is Warrior Pointe. http://www.warriorpointe.org
Final note: There is an ulterior motive attached to this particular post. On December 23, 2001, one of my younger sisters shot and killed herself.
It came as a complete and utter shock, as she left no note and displayed none of the behaviors one would associate with suicidal ideation. She simply stole our mother’s revolver and took her own life.
In the years since then, I’ve lost two fellow Soldiers I’ve served with to suicide, the most recent of which was just a couple months ago. Words can’t express how much it hurts to go through that.
It’s for that reason I’m urging anyone reading this to get involved and do your part to bring that number down as close to zero as we can get it.
I’m doing this for my sister Alicia, Specialist Ebrecht and Specialist Simpson. May no one else suffer as our families have.