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View Diary: Guns and Suicide: Gun Suicides Rise and Fall with Gun Sales (99 comments)

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  •  Logical fallacy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, JesseCW

    Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc.

    Speaking as one trained in both statistics and logic, just because there seems to be a correlation does not mean there is a correlation.

    Incidentally, I used to teach a three semester hour doctoral level course on Thanatology, and a good third of the class time was spent on suicidal ideation and suicide itself. When somebody is bent on suicide, if they don't have one means, they will use another. You cannot stop a determined suicidal person.

    Suicide itself is not predicated on means of doing it. Suicide is the result of the congruence of four key factors: depression, impaired self esteem, anger/hostility, and feeling there is no other way to escape but death.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:17:29 AM PDT

    •  Correct (7+ / 0-)
      " ...just because there seems to be a correlation does not mean there is a correlation."
      This is correct in general.  But in the case of the relationship between gun sales and gun suicides, we have proven that a correlation indeed exists, and that proof is presented in the diary above.  You can see the size of the correlation, the direction of the correlation, and the probability value that the correlation is the result of random chance variation (which in the case of the data presented above is very, very small).

      If you believe I have erred in the data presented, the analysis done, or in making conclusions from the findings, please tell me what errors you find, and I will be happy to discuss them with you.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:39:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  and of suicides, what percent are.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes, wader, Loge, earlybird

      "bent on" suicide, determined etc.  Is there any point at all in treating the suicidal, since they will just kill themselves anyway?  

      ...the biggest fallacy is that suicides are typically long-planned deeds. While this can be true—people who attempt suicide often face a cascade of problems—empirical evidence suggests that they act in a moment of brief but heightened vulnerability.
      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/...

      In cultures without firearms, reducing access to the common means of suicide (pesticides in Sri Lanka and gas ovens and CO in Great Britain) reduces the suicide rate.  Reducing bridge access lowers suicides from jumping from heights.  Means matters, and reducing means, reduces suicide.

      The public health approach doesn't guarantee all suicides will be prevented.  But reducing these needless deaths, especially of impulsive young people.  It is sufficient to begin to make progress on these issues.

      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/...

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:44:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the PHEPC fallacy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheFern

      would be if the diarist says that gun sales caused the increase in gun suicides, or total suicides, which it does not.  

      Now there may be other problems with the studies described -- not all gun sales are reflected in the NICS database, we don't know that the people buying guns are the people committing suicide, etc., but it's not a problem with pure logic.  Maybe it has something to do with statistical significance, but that's not what you say.   There's a difference with confusing correlation and causation and correlation with correlation.  Either way, it's an argument about what use we want to make of the data.

      Part II of your argument from high atop the mountaintop falls apart when you realize not every person who ultimately kills themselves is so determined.  The insight that a gun is more impulsive seems intuitively right, as it would be for gun homicides,  but worthy of more study.  That's not saying the diarist's case isn't proven, but that it's unprovable because of the nature of suicide.  That, prejudging the empirical data, is the logical fallacy, since it uses an ontological claim to contradict an empirical proposition.  

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 09:54:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Diarist Actually Does Say that (0+ / 0-)
        Intuitively, it makes sense that increasing guns sales causes more gun suicides.
        ...in a comment above, though not in the diary itself.
        •  Yes, I said that (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TooFolkGR, Loge, earlybird, Tim DeLaney

          You are correct that I did say in a comment "Intuitively, it makes sense that increasing guns sales causes more gun suicides."

          However, I want to draw a distinction between things we may suspect (increasing gun sales causes more gun suicides) and things we can empirically prove (there exists a strong positive correlation between gun sales and gun suicides).

          I claim that I can prove there exists a strong positive correlation of gun sales with gun suicides - I have done so in the above diary and I have even provided the raw data table so you can check my math and verify my proof.

          I do NOT claim that I can prove gun sales causes more gun suicides.  I do claim that you and I can appreciate a logical connection between rising gun sales and rising gun suicides.  On seeing that connection, I think that most people would then suspect that rising gun sales may play a causative role in gun suicides.  With the data presented above, we cannot prove that, but we do suspect it to be true.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 11:16:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  yeah, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TooFolkGR

          i wasn't saying the diarist did or didn't.  I was criticizing the assumption that suicidal people are going to kill themselves no matter what, not one paragraph after a pedantic lecture about the nature of proof.  There are too many variables to conclude that more gun sales cause more gun suicides, but it's not an idea that can be dismissed out of hand.  And part of what distinguishes causation from correlation, though, is the ability to turn the data points into a cogent narrative, and differences between gun suicides and other kinds helps do that.  My earlier reply used too many pronouns so i can see how it wasn't 100% clear, but I think the diary did show correlation between the two, and I think it's not completely fallacious because the two things being correlated makes sense.  

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 11:29:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There is a notable difference in saying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tim DeLaney

          Logically, it is clear...

          Logically, we can show...

          Intuitively, it makes sense...

          Scientists learn to examine everything that seems to make sense intuitively and construct testable hypotheses, in order to examine ALL assumptions and find confounding variables.

          When I read that sentence

          Intuitively, it makes sense that increasing guns sales causes more gun suicides.
          I took it's meaning to be, in the context of this diary especially, - It might seem to make sense that A causes B, but that could just be be our "common sense" leading us astray.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 12:51:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Here's some statistics and logic. Gas ovens in (7+ / 0-)

      England. Gas ovens were the method of choice for suicide, painless and effective. When the gas became non-lethal, suicide went down 30% and stayed there.

      NPR investigation

      Anderson points to another example where simply making a change in people's access to instruments of suicide dramatically lowered the suicide rate. In England, death by asphyxiation from breathing oven fumes had accounted for roughly half of all suicides up until the 1970s, when Britain began converting ovens from coal gas, which contains lots of carbon monoxide, to natural gas, which has almost none. During that time, suicides plummeted roughly 30 percent — and the numbers haven't changed since.

      Only gun owners can control their guns and they say oopsie way too much. I lost it, I forgot it, it just went off. Support Gun Kill Speed Limits and Gun Ownership Speed Limits.

      by 88kathy on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:03:08 AM PDT

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    •  Where would you send an undergraduate who (0+ / 0-)

      came to you for guidance about their choice of grad school?

      Suppose they are trying to choose between a future in criminal justice or public health, and the common element is violence prevention, which programs have the best offerings, and which experts would you suggest they read to inform their decision?

      Which schools?
      Who would you recommend as possible thesis advisor?

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:07:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You might gain insight.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheFern, wader, Loge, LilithGardener

      into more recent thinking on suicide by reading this  really great article from the New York Times on a suicide researcher Dr. Nock. http://www.nytimes.com/...

      He won a MacArthur genius award in 2011 and is trying to collect data rather than relying on theory, like so much earlier work.  He reports that most suicide attempt survivors are glad they didn't succeed.  So reducing ready access to lethal weapons is predicted to reduce suicide rate.  

      It is a testable hypothesis, not just some spurious correlation.  Predictions can be made and measured.  Interesting how few government studies are funding this research.  That is why it is important for physicians to advise their patients to remove firearms from homes when someone is at risk of suicide.

      13. The public does not understand the importance of method availability.

      Over 2,700 respondents to a national random-digit-dial telephone survey were asked to estimate how many of the more than 1,000 people who had jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge would have gone on to commit suicide some other way if an effective suicide barrier had been installed.  Over 1/3 of respondents estimated that none of the suicides could have been prevented.  Respondents most likely to believe that no one could have been saved were cigarette smokers and gun owners.

      Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Belief in the inevitability of suicide: Results from a national survey. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. 2006; 36:1-11.

      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/...

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 10:08:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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