In the United States, the rate of suicide by firearms is twice as high as homicide. However, public perception is exactly the opposite; most people think that more homicides occur per year by firearms.
The topic of firearms may seem strange in this venue
However, a recent article on the higher prevalence of suicide versus homicide, despite a public perception of the opposite, piqued my interest. I thought that it was relevant for one particular reason – the fear and anxiety that the media has the potential to generate in people and in culture.
And this article is not meant to politically advocate ANY stance on gun control at all.
The fact of the matter is that there is a greater fear of homicide than there is concern and compassion for suicide victims.
Study points out that news reports, movies, and TV shows are likely the culprit for higher risk of firearm homicide
The study points out that news reports, movies, and TV shows are likely the culprit of this higher risk of firearm homicide, and that there is a substantial gap between ideas and reality that have a potential for further danger.
“This research indicates that in the scope of violent death, the majority of U.S. adults don’t know how people are dying,” said Erin Morgan, lead author and doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health. “Knowing that the presence of a firearm increases the risk for suicide, and that firearm suicide is substantially more common than firearm homicide, may lead people to think twice about whether or not firearm ownership and their storage practices are really the safest options for them and their household.”
Researchers used data from 2015 National Firearms Survey
To assess the public perceptions, researchers used data from 2015 National Firearms Survey, a web-based survey of nearly 4,000 adults. The survey asked adults to rank the relative causes of violent death in their own state over the past year. The responses were compared to the state’s actual death counts. The results indicated that although suicide was more common than homicide in ALL 50 states, most participants had other perceptions.
Suicide more common than homicide in ALL 50 states
“The relative frequencies that respondents reported didn’t match up with the state’s data when we compared them to vital statistics,” Morgan said. “The inconsistency between the true causes and what the public perceives to be frequent causes of death indicates a gap in knowledge and a place where additional education can be helpful.”
Study opens up the conversation of why we have conflicting perceptions with reality
The study opens up the conversation of why we have conflicting perceptions with reality. Furthermore, there may be repercussions arising from this false cultural perception which is adding to the problem. This may be occurring as individuals purchase firearms or store them unsafely due to a false sense that homicide is a growing threat.
“We know that this is a mixture of mass and individual communication, but what really leads people to draw the conclusions that they do?” Morgan said. “If people think that the rate of homicide is really high because that’s what is shown on the news and on fictional TV shows, then these are opportunities to start to portray a more realistic picture of what’s happening.”
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.