WaPo: My husband died by suicide. Here’s what happened during my awkward call with the NRA

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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28 Responses

  1. Avatar Jon Rowe
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    says:

    I wonder whether Japan’s suicide rate & firearms policy sheds any light on the dilemma?Report

  2. Avatar notme
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    says:

    I guess more folks are willing to work together if you don’t demonize gun owners, the nra, etc.Report

  3. Avatar Zac
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    says:

    I’m glad Inslee is doing this. Suicides are twice as common a form of death as homicides re: firearms, so it’s good to see that folks are working together to try and lower those numbers.Report

  4. Avatar Alan Scott
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    says:

    Great. I hope this is the start of a broader trend.Report

  5. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    Err yah, but what about the folks that WANT to kill themselves?

    It’s one thing for someone who’s depressed or has a mental illness, but what about the folks that have an incurable disease? If someone’s mind is clear and they want out, they should be able to go. Who the hell is anyone else to say no?Report

    • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Damon
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      says:

      Meh, there is always suicide by cop. Hell, with full depth social healthcare they’ll be sending someone out to pop you whether you want it or not.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Damon
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      says:

      FWIW, many (I think actually most) suicide attempts are impulsive acts. If you survive, it’s often one that’s never repeated. And guns are not nearly as certain a method as many people think, and the societal costs of failure there are pretty high.

      As such, there’s a pretty good utilitarian argument there that placing even the tiny roadblock of a “stop and think” sign is sufficient to prevent a number of suicide attempts (some portion of which will result in expensive costs to society, in terms of seriously handicapped survivors).

      They’ve found placing railings on bridges with a ‘jumper’ problem was sufficient to deter many of them, and there was no uptick in jumps from other bridges or local suicides by other means. Blocked by a simple 6 foot fence, people…didn’t climb over it, didn’t seek out another bridge, didn’t pick another method. They just apparently said “Screw it, I’ll try later” and just…didn’t try later.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Morat20
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        says:

        Impulsivity is no barrier to not doing it again, fwiw.
        This goes ten times as much if it’s medicine causing the suicidal acts.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kim
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          says:

          Impulsivity is no barrier to not doing it again, fwiw.

          As I just pointed out, it kind of IS.

          Because in real life, they’ve found things like “placing a fence on a bridge” deters a significant number of suicides. They won’t climb the fence, they won’t find another bridge, they don’t find another method., they don’t try again later. Their suicide just…doesn’t happen. T

          Because a tiny barrier was sufficient to make them stop for a moment, and that was sufficient.

          Because — and I’m sure this may shock you, but it turns out people actually study suicides and try to work out why, and who, and where, and how and all those funny scientific questions — it turns out that a lot of suicides aren’t from clinical depression, life-long problems, or anything long-term. They’re an impulsive act based short-term circumstances and thus tend to be a one-off.

          Or to sum up: People with clinical depression or long-term suicidal impulses can’t be stopped. Short of intensive, ongoing therapy and medication, they will eventually find a way. But it turns out lots of suicide attempts don’t come from clinical depression or long-term suicidal impulses, and are in fact “weak” attempts. Making suicide even mildly inconvenient tends to stop them and they never try again.

          The latter are why you places fences on bridges, and why sometimes simple “stop a second and think about this before you proceed” things are valuable.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Morat20
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        says:

        From a practical perspective, I see no need to prevent them, baring serious mental illness. It’s my life. Bill my estate for the clean up / emergency services. It’s my body, I’ll do with it as I will.

        Besides, it reduces the surplus population.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Damon
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          says:

          That’s just it, it prevents nothing, in that it isn’t creating hard barriers, like extended waiting periods, or restraining orders, or any other law enforcement activity.

          Just information, awareness, and encouraging people who might have a suicidal person at home to create soft barriers. My apologies for being flip, but it’s a Dread Pirate Roberts thing. “Good night Wesley, good work, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning”, except it’s, “I’m depressed, I want to die, but nothing is at hand to end my pain with. I’ll look for something tomorrow”.

          Don’t confuse the person who is terminally ill with the person who just needs help. These are two very different issues.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            So, I’m finding myself in a weird position…

            My initial response was much like @damon ‘s: as someone who supports physician assisted suicide, why stand in the way of people making decisions about their lives?

            Than I realized this is very different than physician assisted suicide given the tendency towards these decisions being impulsive and most people who attempt suicide and fail never attempting again but handguns have a very high rate of “success”.

            And as I sat down to write that to Damon — to write an argument very similar to @oscar-gordon ‘s — I wondered how I would feel if the same argument was made about abortion.

            Imagine if a woman going for an abortion was not practically restrained or delayed but was given a pamphlet that said, “Are you SURE you want to do this?”

            How would I feel? I really don’t know. So I’m conflicted…Report

            • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kazzy
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              says:

              Depression is the most fatal form of mental illness.

              Now, agreed– some people are just so sick that maybe offing them might be a good idea.
              However, state of mind is a consideration in the inquiry of informed consent; e.g., intoxication.Report

            • Avatar Damon in reply to Kazzy
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              says:

              “Are you SURE you want to do this?””

              I find this offensive if asked on any number of questions. It is not someone else’s place to question my actions, especially the state, with the possible exception for loved ones.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon
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                says:

                Are you really trying to come off an completely callous and clueless about depression and suicide? Have you known anybody who killed themselves due to mental illness?Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to greginak
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                says:

                This phrase is used for all sorts of things. I see it in emails asking if I think i’ve saved enough for retirement, among other things. And I’m not speaking specifically about mental illness, i’m speaking generally.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon
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                says:

                In the context of someone who wants to kill themselves it seems like a pretty darn valid question. This really wasn’t’ about Clippy the Windows Paper Clip asking if you want to delete something.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to greginak
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                says:

                If this is doctor assisted suicide, or something similar, I agree. I fail to see many other areas to apply it however.Report

    • Avatar Francis in reply to Damon
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      says:

      You do recognize that the anti-assisted suicide movement is housed in the Republican party? In any event, if you can’t get pills then buy a handgun, get through the necessary waiting period, go sit the bathtub, put the barrel in your mouth, and blow out your medulla oblongata. Or rent a CO2 canister and some tubing.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Francis
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        says:

        Please don’t insult me by suggesting I’m a republican.

        Yeah, pills are better. My dad promised his wife she wouldn’t come home one day to find him dead by a gun shot. He died a year later after six months of hell. I’ll not go that way. I may not put a round in my head out of courtesy to my loved ones but I’ll find a way.Report

        • Avatar Francis in reply to Damon
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          says:

          My apologies for the unintended implication.

          My point, fwiw, is for those people who don’t live in States providing physician-assisted suicide, there are always paths available. The outcome will inevitably be much harsher on the survivors.

          I can see the Kevin Drum approach. Last dinner with family, lie on the bed, take the pills. But in a State where you don’t have that option? Ask your wife to take a walk around the block while you set up the CO2 canister, or use a gun? Yuck. How cruel we can all be to each other.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Francis
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        says:

        Yeah, everything you need to go quietly and painlessly is available at your local welding supply shop: tubing, breathing mask, small tank of dry nitrogen and a regulator. Measured by annual deaths, nitrogen is the most dangerous industrial gas in the US — and none of the people who die have any clue that it’s happening to them.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    That is, the NRA does care about gun violence when the victims are potential donors.Report

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