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There's also our failure to invest in effective medical tools like tests, drugs and vaccines. On average, it has taken an estimated one to three days for test results to come back — an eternity when you need to quarantine people. Drugs that might help stop Ebola were not tested in patients until after the epidemic had peaked, partly because the world has no clear process for expediting drug approvals. Compare all of this to the preparation that nations put into defense, which has high-quality mobile units ready to be deployed quickly.
Reducing the availability of highly lethal and commonly used suicide methods has been associated with declines in suicide rates of as much as 30%–50% in other countries (PDF). According to Cathy Barber, people trying to die by suicide tend to choose not the most effective method, but the one most at hand. Some methods have a case fatality rate as low as 1 or 2 percent," says Barber. "With a gun, it's closer to 85 or 90 percent. So it makes a difference what you're reaching for in these low-planned or unplanned suicide attempts." Ken Baldwin, who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge in 1985 and lived, told reporters that he knew as soon as he had jumped that he had made a terrible mistake. "From the instant I saw my hand leave the railing, I knew I wanted to live. I was terrified out of my skull." Baldwin was lucky to survive the 220 foot plunge into frigid waters. Ms. Barber tells another story: On a friend's very first day as an emergency room physician, a patient was wheeled in, a young man who had shot himself in a suicide attempt. "He was begging the doctors to save him," she says. But they could not.