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Friday, February 22, 2013

To Reduce Suicide Rates, New Focus Turns to Guns

By SABRINA TAVERNISE
The New York Times
Published: February 13, 2013

Craig Reichert found his son’s body on a winter morning, lying on the floor as if he were napping with his great-uncle’s pistol under his knee. The 911 dispatcher told him to administer CPR, but Mr. Reichert, who has had emergency training, told her it was too late. His son, Kameron, 17, was already cold to the touch.

Guns are like a grandmother’s diamonds in the Reichert family, heirlooms that carry memory and tradition. They are used on the occasional hunting trip, but most days they are stored, forgotten, under a bed. So when Kameron used one on himself, his parents were as shocked as they were heartbroken.

“I beat myself up quite a bit over not having a gun safe or something to put them in,” Mr. Reichert said. But he said even if he had had one, “There would have been two people in the house with the combination, him and me.”

The gun debate has focused on mass shootings and assault weapons since the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn., but far more Americans die by turning guns on themselves. Nearly 20,000 of the 30,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national suicide rate has climbed by 12 percent since 2003, and suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teenagers.

Guns are particularly lethal. Suicidal acts with guns are fatal in 85 percent of cases, while those with pills are fatal in just 2 percent of cases, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

The entire story is here.

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