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UD’s been compiling, during this Suicide Prevention Month, the many forms of writing out of Wyoming about that state’s appalling suicide rate that never mention guns.

Though firearms are the third-most common method for attempting suicide, they are responsible for the largest share of suicide deaths because they are so lethal. Nationally, nearly two-thirds of all deaths by firearm are due to suicide, and Wyoming has had the highest rate of suicide by firearm of any state over the last 15 years. Studies have linked higher rates of gun ownership with increased risk of suicide death, but in Wyoming, which also has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the country, this is an unpopular topic. As Tom Morton of the Casper Star-Tribune put it in a series of articles about Wyoming’s suicide epidemic, guns and suicide are the “third rail of Wyoming culture.”

So for instance a University of Wyoming news page yesterday touted the work on Wyoming suicides of one of their psychology professors. Let’s take a look.

‘[Carolyn] Pepper’s research team at UW’s Stress and Mood Lab is using nationally collected health data to understand what factors are specific to the Mountain West’s suicide rate. The stoic, individualistic Western mindset is one possible explanation… The Stress and Mood Lab initially studied demographic factors such as age, race, urbanization level and gender. Although all of these were elevated factors in the Mountain West, they did not explain why suicide rates are so high. The research team is now shifting focus to the cultural factors of living in a state with a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality.’

Hm yes that bootstraps thing… You see it in ‘Deer Hunter’ states like Pennsylvania too, but they have strikingly fewer guns and less suicide than Wyoming…

“I kept thinking someday I should study suicide, but I was sure that someone was already doing this research,” Pepper says. “I waited and waited, but no psychologist was looking at suicide in Wyoming.”’

She was sure cuz… you know… when they’re dropping like flies in your state… when some counties in your state – like Platte – are just stupendously suicidal… you figure the best social scientists around are hard at work on it. But that third rail! Why bother? Just keep ignoring the Uberti in the room and you won’t piss off anyone.

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Let’s pile on. When you add to all of this Wyoming’s insanely low covid vaccination rate, with the sort of death rate that goes along with that, you have to conclude that the whole state’s got a death wish.

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