NRA spokesperson calls pediatricians “irresponsible” for pointing out link between firearms and adolescent suicide
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National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch used her NRATV show to take on a doctor who recommended “a better strategy” to prevent teen suicide “is simply not to have a gun in the house.” Instead, Loesch argued to focus on homes where “the parenting is absent or subpar.”
Loesch highlighted a November 30 article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that “the safest home for a kid is one without guns.” The article highlighted that “adolescents, in particular, are at a higher risk for suicide when there is a gun in the home” and mentioned the recent example of a local teenage girl, Ivey Mustaki, who died from suicide using her grandmother’s firearm.
The NRATV host took particular issue with the article’s quotes from Dr. Daniel Blumenthal, a retired pediatrician and former president of the American College of Preventive Medicine. Blumenthal speculated that if the teenager’s family had “only known that there are far more gun-related suicides than homicides. If they’d only known that is it next to impossible to hide a gun from a teen, … perhaps Ivey would be alive today.” Blumenthal reiterated that “there are things individuals can do, and one of them is not have a gun in the house.”
Loesch rejected the doctor’s recommendations, saying that maybe “a firearm in a house where the parenting is absent or subpar” is a problem, but it is “irresponsible” to “pretend that this is a universal rule and not an outlier.” Loesch suggested focusing on “the correct precautions” and called Blumenthal’s recommendations an attempt “to incite fear into the hearts of every family across America.” From the December 3 edition of NRATV’s Relentless:
DANA LOESCH (HOST): It seems a little bit like it’s trying to incite fear into the hearts of every family across America. And what’s lost in all of this is, what about making sure that Ivey had the mental help that she had needed, identifying maybe perhaps that she was going through depression and doing everything possible to make sure that she got the attention and the help that she needed in order to remedy the situation. I mean maybe perhaps taking just the correct precautions that millions of families across the country take every single day in determining how they would like to store their firearms -- how it works best for their own personal needs and their family’s needs -- maybe that would have been helpful in this situation. I mean there are definitely some instances when a firearm in a house -- a firearm in a house where the parenting is absent or subpar, where storage and responsibility and respect for privacy and/or life isn’t paramount. Then yeah, maybe we definitely need to have a conversation with those individuals about where their priorities are and how they’re storing things. But to pretend that this is a universal rule and not an outlier -- that this is somehow indicative of every gun-owning family across the country as opposed to an exception -- that in itself is irresponsible. Because if that were the case, then we would have far more of these awful instances than we do.
Contrary to Loesch’s claims, firearm suicides account for nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, “over half of suicide deaths are with firearms,” and 80 percent of child firearm suicides “involved a gun belonging to a family member.” While studies have found that nine out of 10 people who fail in their first attempt do not go on to die from suicide later, Everytown notes that firearm suicide attempts “are by far the most lethal, with a fatality rate of approximately 85 percent.”
While Loesch insisted that there is no connection between firearms in the home and suicide, an analysis of research conducted by the the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that “preponderance of current evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for youth suicide in the United States.”
The NRA was recently raked over the coals by medical professionals for suggesting that doctors should “stay in their lane” after the American College of Physicians released a position paper recommending several gun safety regulations from a medical perspective.