Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Death by Gun in a school enviroment

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
oldbearnews editor

Firstly let me say two things:

1 - Death is a natural part of life!   You get born - you live, and eventually you will die.
Where it gets challenging is, if you die prematurely (from any causes you care to list) versus dying eventually from a natural cause (not even sure how you would define "natural" cause).  A n y   death will be hard and sad for those left behind - your family and friends and especially so if it is pre-maturely end to life.

2 - I took numbers from various 'official' websites and one should always take them with a grain of salt.  I cannot be 100% sure that they are 100% correct (as with all things listed on the Internet) however am confident that the variances are so minor as to statistically have no impact on the message trying to be conveyed here.  I am sure a 3rd year Uni student (studying statistics) will rip this to shreds though. Certainly do not take the numbers here as Gospel in itself!!!

So here it goes

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School featured for all the wrong reasons (17 dead by gun) highly on our news (here in NZ) and of course in the various media in US.  As always this is a distressing event for the families and friends concerned and they have my sympathies!!

One of the memes doing the rounds on Facebook is along the lines of "40 years back everyone had a gun in their pick-up truck and we had less shootings - so what happened???"

This got me digging.
(remember to take the numbers with a grain of salt)

The first recorded "Death by Gun" in a School was - wait for it - in 1760. Yes some 260 years back.
The question raised by the Facebook meme was one of, is there a increase in school shootings compared to historical events and why??

Wikipedia does a decent job of listing the various dates / numbers

Incidentally it does not breakdown (but could be mathematically extracted) on the breakdown of Adults (teachers / support staff) versus children .  The trend though is clear - with earlier killings involving more adults then youth as compared to the last 50 years . . . It does make for sober reading

If you look at that purely from a numbers point then yes 58 deaths in decade of 1980 is 56 more then the 2 people who died in the decade of 1880's.  However I was wondering what as a percentage of all school children that would be and so had to go and visit various websites to find a list of USA population for the various years.  Clearly in 1880 there were less  people living in USA (nearly 50 million) - compared to 327 Million people in 2018 .


The consensus is that about 20% of that total would be children aged between 0 - 18.  I am   n o t   confident that this ratio would have applied across all decades as people had more or less children at various times . . . so just for arguments sake I stuck with 20% across the board.
Thus in 1880 there  would have been around 9 million children (give or take a few 100 000)
With 2 deaths by gun that would have been  0.000020% of all school aged children in USA of 1880.

Compared to the 2010 (and still counting) decade,  that is 160 deaths by gun and at a 0.000259% !
In plain simple English - the chances of someone dying (by gun in a school in USA) in this decade -  is 3 times more likely then compared to 1880.

Clearly an increase

Still that is (think about that) - Nought POINT nought nought nought two five nine percent of the  t o t a l   current (2018) school population within the USA.  That however does not make any easier if it involves your child or your best friend! 

I then decided to look up all deaths by subject and that was a decent surprise to me

One statistic jumped out immediately:

In 2014, the overall rate of death by firearms in the United States was 10.3 per 100,000 people — the same as for death by motor vehicles  (total of 3087) — with suicides ( some 2000) accounting for roughly two out of every three gun deaths.    REALLY?????        
 For the year 2014 – there was one - yes ONE school shooting – resulting in 5 dead  people!!

That goes begging  2 questions but before I go there here are some more stats to consider:

The website lists the 10 most likely causes of "early" deaths (in USA).  They are in order:

The top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.:   
1    Heart disease
2    Cancer (malignant neoplasms)
3    Chronic lower respiratory disease
4    Accidents (unintentional injuries)
5    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases)
6    Alzheimer's disease
7    Diabetes
8    Influenza and pneumonia
9    Kidney disease (nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis)
10    Suicide

 NOTE - only 2 are not medically related ( Accidents / Suicide)
Wonder what they would be for New Zealand

Nearly 75 percent of all deaths in the United States are attributed to just 10 causes, with the top three of these (Heart /Cancer / Respiratory)  accounting for over 50 percent of all deaths. Over the last 5 years, the main causes of death in the U.S. have remained fairly consistent.                   
The most recent data (2014) reveals that annually there were 2,626,418 deaths registered in the U.S.                   
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for almost 1 in every 4 deaths, and affecting significantly more men than women.

So lets look at nr 10  -   Suicide

Suicide (intentional self-harm) in the USA is the 10th most likely cause of death
total registered for 2008/9 Deaths: 42,773                   
Among adults aged 18 years or   y o u n g e r   in the U.S. during 2008-2009:  
(Not sure if that is a typo and should be 'older')
An estimated 8.3 million adults (3.7 percent of the adult U.S. population) reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year           
An estimated 2.2 million adults (1.0 percent of the adult U.S. population) reported having made suicide plans in the past year           
An estimated 1 million adults (0.5 percent of the U.S. adult population) reported making a suicide attempt in the past year  (remember - under 18 years and what an extraordinary mind blowing number that is)
Percentage of total deaths (by suicide in 2008/2009) : 1.6 percent  w h i l e  the percentage of deaths by gun in school for years 2010 to 2018 stands at  0.000259 percent.

On a personal note - I am told about our Oma who had some thoughts of ending it all while trying to escape the advancing Russian soldiers during the end of the second world war  (marching from Romania to Austria) and my brother - well - yes he too had some 'episodes'.  As a family we also know (of the top of my head) of 2 people who have ended it all prematurely/. Thus yes a case could be made that there is a "motivation" or personal interest in this topic.

I contend though that even for the blissfully unaware person there are TWO questions (as alluded to above) that go begging:

One - why do the main media (and in particularly in the USA) report at  nausea on events that involve guns and deaths and in particular school-events???? 

Two - Why not on the ten leading causes of death???  Or any other reasons.  The notion that a school shooting is a "more sexy/newsworthy" event and makes more "sales" or increase the viewer-ship can be taken only so far and would be morally bankrupt imho!

The Gun lobby does always get a beating over this (and note that I am NOT making a personal right or wrong comment here - just stating a fact) and yet I think (for once) that President Trump had it  right when,  in response to the latest's school shooting, he said that more "effort needs to be made on mental health and well-being". 


Here in New Zealand Mike King is doing his bit and so has been John Kirwan through his‎  campaign on TV. 
Time to put this into perspective and give less airtime to the mass hysteria and re-focus on some more pressing issues me thinks.

Anyway - if you are still with me here - thanks for reading my rant - and if you need to - seek help or speak with someone . . . . . .

Have fun! bear print

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