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February 1, 2013

Summary of several gun-related suicides in the United States this week

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Friday, February 1, 2013

A number of suicides as a result of self-inflicted gunshot wounds took place around the country this week with reports of deaths in California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington.

Last Saturday in Wingo Way, South Carolina, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alston Badger died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was fifty-one-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 gun involved murder-suicide took place on Monday. This one occurred in Elmont, New York, where fifty-eight-year-old Audley Dennis is believed to have shot his forty-six-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.”

Greensburg, Indiana, where one of this week’s gun related suicides took place
Image: Dopey9928.

In Greensburg, Indiana on Tuesday, local police Lieutenant Larry G. Dance committed suicide, dying as a result of 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 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. A manhunt had been ongoing since Wednesday following the shooting at 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, a Michael Strand exchanged gunfire with police after they attempted to bring the Strand in for questioning about a burgurlary. Following a lull of appropoximately an hour, police enterted 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 the situation, Baumgartner disappeared into the local woods, re-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. While there for the second time, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, with his body discovered by police near items believed to have been stolen.

The problem of suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound is recognized by some gun groups. The Royal Oak shooting range in Michigan stopped their practice of gun rentals this week following twelve people having attempted, five of them successfully, of killing themselves using guns rented from the range. Three of the incidents occurred in the past four months, with two of them fatal. The story, covered by the Daily Tribune, makes zero references to employees having been trained to handle suicides or successfully using their own weapons to discourage those attempts.

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. PressTV reports 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 PoliFact reporting on Wednesday that there were 4,643 non-fatal gun involved suicide attempts in 2010. This number fails to testimony by Wayne LaPierre of NRA to the United States Congress on the same date 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 lower levels of suicide by gun in the United States’s Capital compared to surrounding areas.



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