Deviant Results Regarding the Relative Lethality of Suicide Methods
16 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 6, 2020
The main argument for why access to firearms could increase the likelihood that a person will commit suicide is that suicide attempts by shooting are more lethal than other suicide methods likely to be substituted. Hanging is the most likely substitute method. Connor, Azrael, and Miller (2019) claimed that 89.6% of shooting attempts and just 52.7% of hanging attempts are fatal (p. 889), so that the ratio of the shooting case fatality rate (CFR) over the hanging CFR (the “lethality ratio”) was 1.70. This result was radically different from those of ten prior studies, which generally found little or difference between shooting and hanging. The deviant result was attributable to the use of datasets that understated the number of nonfatal suicide attempts by shooting and relatively understated the number by hanging, probably as a result of biases in the samples of hospital emergency departments used.
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