Correction — February 6, 2013 This article does not conform to our neutrality policy, due to its manner of presentation of an out-of-context selection of facts. The lapse appears to have been unintentional by all parties involved. We apologize for the error.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
A number of suicides as a result of self-inflicted gunshot wounds took place around the United States this week with reports of deaths in Arizona, California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington.
Last Saturday in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alston Badger died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 51 years old.
On Monday in Clark County, Nevada, Jody Sherman, the Ecomom founder and CEO, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Another suicide occurred Monday in New Jersey. Chester and Rosaria Andraka died after Chester allegedly shot Rosaria before killing himself. Chester was a former police officer and there were few signs of trouble in the relationship prior to their deaths.
Another murder-suicide shooting took place on Monday. This one occurred in Elmont, New York, where 58-year-old Audley Dennis is believed to have shot his 46-year-old wife, Karen Rodgers-Dennis, before he shot himself. The couple allegedly had a history of fighting, with a family friend telling the New York Post, “They had their altercations. They would argue and yell, have outbursts.”
In Greensburg, Indiana on Tuesday, local police Lieutenant Larry G. Dance committed suicide, dying from a self-inflicted gunshot. He had joined the police force on January 1, 1995. He left behind by a wife and two daughters.
On Tuesday in Waldorf, Maryland, local police reported an attempted murder-suicide with sixty-four year old Linda Lindsey believed to have shot her husband before fatally shooting herself. Her husband was reported to have survived and be in critical condition.
Devin Peterson, a twenty-two year old, allegedly committed suicide with a state trooper’s shotgun following his alleged theft of a police cruiser, another car and a police chase on Interstate 80 in Nevada on Wednesday.
A seventy-year-old man from Renton, Washington died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound on Wednesday shortly after he called 911 to tell the dispatcher he was planning to take his own life.
On Wednesday, three people died in a murder-suicide in Oxnard, California that involved at least one gun. The deceased included two women and the suspected male shooter.
On Thursday, Lee Vining Fire Chief Tom Strazdims reported an Oregon man likely commited suicide by shooting himself in the parking lot of the town’s visitor center.
Also on Thursday, the body of a suspected gunman accused of killing a call center CEO and injuring a lawyer was found dead of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound in Mesa, Arizona. Police had been searching for the man since Wednesday following the shooting at a mediation session over a lawsuit.
In another reported suicide on Thursday, this one in the Baltimore area, a man was found dead in the parking lot of the Timonium gun range of a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
In Radcliff, Kentucky on Thursday, alleged burglar Michael Strand exchanged gunfire with police after they attempted to bring him in for questioning. Following a lull of approximately an hour, police entered the apartment and found the man dead from an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In Medina, Ohio on Thursday, United States Marine Andrew Baumgartner, who served in Afghanistan and had been discharged several months ago, got into an altercation with Sgt. Scott Schmoll after Schmoll felt a gun on Baumgartner’s person. Following this, Baumgartner hid in nearby woodlands, emerged to knock on the door of a local home to tell the resident he had been hit by a car, only to disappear into the woods again. He subsequently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police discovered his body alongside items they believed he had stolen.
The problem of suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound is recognized by some gun groups. The Royal Oak shooting range in Michigan stopped renting guns this week following after twelve people having attempted to kill themselves with guns rented from the range since 2001 (five of them were successful). Three of the incidents occurred in the past four months, with two of them fatal.
These suicides take place against a backdrop of gun control discussion in the United States Congress, where former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and an NRA spokesperson appeared before the body this week to discuss the possible need for stricter gun control laws.
According to the Maine Center of Disease Control and Prevention, guns are used in 85% of male suicides in the state. Debate has continued this week in the state about gun control as it relates to suicide. Iran’s PressTV published an opinion piece claiming that for every gun owner who uses their weapon in their home for self-defense, there are eleven suicide attempts involving a weapon. In the United States, veterans are more likely to use guns in acts of suicide than acts of homicide. The number of daily suicides by veterans is currently 22.
Guns are often used in suicide attempts, with PolitiFact reporting on Wednesday that there were 4,643 non-fatal gun involved suicide attempts in 2010. This number contradicts testimony by Wayne LaPierre of NRA to the United States Congress regarding unintentional deaths cause by firearms as LaPierre cited 600 deaths. Australia instituted tougher gun control regulations in 1996, including gun buy back programs. According to a study by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University, these programs correlate to an 80% drop in suicides involving guns at a time when other methods of suicide remained consistent.
Similar research done in the United States has similar results. A 1991 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found stricter gun control in the District of Columbia was a likely cause of a reduction in the number of suicides by gun shot in D.C. compared to surrounding areas.