January 20, 2016 – Guns and Suicide


Anchor lead: What accounts for the large increase in gun deaths reported by the CDC? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Gun-related deaths now exceed those from motor vehicle accidents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.  Mike Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says why these deaths occur is as important as that they are occurring.

Klag: I want to make one point about the CDC report.  What we’re seeing is an increase in suicides by firearms, and that’s occurring primarily in white households.  White Americans are more than twice as likely as black Americans to have guns in their home, and they experience gun violence primarily through suicide.  As a clinician one of the things you’re taught early in medical school is that when you assess somebody for suicidal ideation and you’re concerned about suicide, you ask about guns in the home, and immediately, if there are guns in the home you have the family remove those guns.  :32

Klag says a comprehensive, public health approach to our national problem of suicide is crucial, and notes that unlike other methods of suicide, guns are virtually 100% lethal on the first attempt.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.