What is Lethal Means Restriction?
While many efforts to prevent suicide focus on the why of suicide, "Lethal Means Restriction" or "Means Reduction" focuses on the how. It is an important part of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention.
Lethal Means Restriction involves asking questions of at-risk people regarding their access to lethal means, speaking to family members of at-risk people about the availability of lethal means in the home, and offering non-judgmental advice and resources on safe storage or firearms and medications.
What does Lethal Means Restriction involve?
- Removing guns from the homes of at-risk people or storing guns locked and unloaded.
- Erecting barriers on bridges.
- Dispensing fewer sleeping pills or other potentially lethal medication to at-risk people.
Why is it important?
- Many suicide attempts are impulsive; that is, they occur during a temporary crisis. Restricting access to means can decrease potential for completed suicides.
- Means matter- intent isn't all that determines whether an attempter lives or dies.
- 90% of attempters do not go on to die by suicide later.
- Access to firearms is a risk factor for suicide.
- Firearms in youth suicide cases usually belong to a parent.
- Restricting access to lethal means SAVES LIVES!
"If highly lethal means are made less available to impulsive attempters and they substitute less lethal means, or temporarily postpone their attempt, the odds are increased that they will survive. Studies in a variety of countries have indicated that when access to lethal means is reduced, both the means-specific suicide rate and, very often, the overall suicide rate decline."
Source: Means Matter, Harvard School of Public Health