An anonymous commenter wrote the following thoughts about a previous post:
I guess I'm wondering if we would have . . . a decrease in those willing to seek treatment for the fear of losing the privlage. I do have a permit to cary a weapon and if I thought I would lose that permit by going to the hospital for help, I'm not so sure that I would go. I have been a hunter since I was 12 and value my permit as much as my drivers licens. I'm wondering how many people would try to push through it instead of getting help if losing there permit was seen as being a punishment for being mentaly ill?I realized when I wrote the original post that a decrease in seeking treatment could be an unintended outcome, but I decided not to address it. My thinking was that I can only put so many concepts in a single post before my reader gives up on the post.
But now that this person has asked the question, let's talk about it!
Please note that people who are involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility, because they are a danger to themselves or to others, are already prohibited from possessing, using, manufacturing, controlling, selling or transfering firearms under PA law. These people would already be labelled as "mental defectives" (!) under federal law, and prohibited from purchasing firearms when a background check is performed. Thus my proposal would have no effect in this situation. The change I propose would only affect those who admit themselves voluntarily.
That being said, I would like to address two things from the comment.
First, the commenter says, "if I thought I would lose that permit by going to the hospital for help, I'm not so sure that I would go." It's really not likely that you would need admission to a hospital for help with depression. There are many other treatments for depression besides a hospital stay. You could get help from a psychologist, psychiatrist, an outpatient program, or even your primary care physician. You could be treated via talk therapy or medication. According to WebMD, over 90% of depression is treated on an out-patient basis.
Second, I'd like to discuss the commenter's assertion that her/his carry permit was just as important as her/his driver's license. I tried to picture how that would feel: What if admitting myself to the hospital for suicidality would result in losing my driver's license?
Please bear with me now as I try to respond to this honestly.
My gut response was that, of course, I would still admit myself. After all, if I didn't get into a safe environment, there would be no more driving anyway. Or sleeping, or eating, or anything. Because I would end up dead if I didn't get into the hospital.
After some more honest consideration, however, I wondered if I wouldn't try to "push through it instead of getting help," as the commenter suggested.
Because here's the thing. If I admitted myself to the hospital, I would do so under the assumption that it would stop me from killing myself. And that I would eventually be released. It would be very important for me to have my driver's license when I left the hospital, especially because I live in a rural area where driving is a necessity.
So maybe I would not admit myself if I thought I'd be released and then not have my driver's license.
But, dear commenter, I'm afraid I have to reject the idea that guns are as important as drivers' licenses for many Americans, and guns would not be a consideration when seeking voluntary admission to a hospital for suicidality. Most depressed people would not worry about losing their guns, because they simply don't have any.
I formed this opinion from statistics in the following articles:
There are more women than men in the United States. Women suffer from depression at roughly twice the rate of men. So I think it's safe to say that more than two thirds of depressed people in the US are women.
Another study finds that 45% of men own guns, whereas only 10% of women own guns. So it looks like only a small percentage of depressed people own guns.
And remember that per WebMD, only about 10% of depression cases require hospitalization.
It appears that the loss of firearm privileges would affect only about 2% of depressed people.* And I would expect that an even smaller percentage would be as passionate as the commenter about potential loss of their Second Amendment rights if they were considering admission to the hospital for suicidality.
So, in answer to the anonymous commenter, I do not think that my proposal to add voluntarily admitted people to the no-gun database would much decrease the likelihood of seeking treatment for depression.
* I tried to come up with a formula to represent what percentage of the population would actually be affected by my proposal, but I'm a word person, not a numbers person. This is how I did it. Feel free to correct me!
women - 66% of depression cases x 10% hospitalization x 10% own guns
men - 33% of depression cases x 10% hospitalization x 45% own guns
for women - .66 x .10 x .10 = .0066 = my proposal affects .007 of depressed women or 0.7%
for men - .33 x .10 x .45 = .01485 = my proposal affects .015 of depressed men or 1.5%
add depressed women and men - 0.7% + 1.5% = 2.2%