“And Job said: ‘Let the day perish in which I was born…. Let that day be darkness!'”

Job did not commit suicide. Yet, his expressions of despair could have been a prelude. His life had become a ritual of darkness and perishing.

I had a friend whose days had become darkness and motivations which unleashed perishing. He had been fighting a disease that withered his body and mind. One night he took a handgun from his nightstand and he was no more.

In 2017, about 22,000 Americans committed suicide by gun. In 2016, gun suicide accounted for 77% of gun deaths in Minnesota. 63% of gun suicides occurred in greater Minnesota. Approximately 95% of gun suicides in Minnesota are committed by White people. Guns are used in almost 50% of suicide attempts in Minnesota, and 85% of those attempts result in death. Suicide is now the leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24 in Minnesota. The STARTRIBUNE reports, “Despite a 10% decrease in suicides among females in Minnesota in 2017 compared to 2016, overall suicides in Minnesota increased 5%, driven by a 9% increase among males…. Increases in suicides in recent years had mostly been among older adults.” The STARTRIBUNE reports that between 2013-2017, the suicide rate per 100,000 Minnesotans by race is: American Indian, 23, White, 13, Asian/Pacific Islander 8, and Black 7.

Nationally, suicides account for 60% of gun deaths. Suicide is the leading cause of death among military vets who use guns 68% of the time. States with the highest gun ownership rates have the highest suicide rates. The rate of firearm suicide is 66% higher in rural counties. Men account for 90% of gun suicides. 38% of children/youth killed themselves by gun. Native American children had the highest rate of suicide.

A Harvard study notes that a person living in a home with a gun is three to five times more likely to commit suicide than someone who does not. Most suicides occur within one month after a gun purchase. The time elapsed between the decision to commit suicide and a suicide attempt is: 5 minutes (24%), 20 minutes (48%) and 60 minutes (71%). The suicide lethality rate for a gun is 82.5% compared with drugs or poisons 1.5%.

Guns are the preferred suicide machine. Guns are the most lethal and final. The facts tell the truth. The presence of guns lowers the bar for darkness and perishing. Job’s feelings are potential suicide feelings.

What can be done to bring light and hope? My next blog will offer light and hope.


Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes

SOURCES: www.engageelca.org, www.protectmn.org, www.thetrace.org