Preventing suicide is an all hands, community effort. This year, consider adding “taking steps to prevent suicide” to your New Year’s resolutions. Whether you take time to support a friend following a challenging time or equip members of your team with free and confidential resources for psychological health, we all can play a role in completing small ACTs to help others.
Although some are planned in advance, the majority of suicides and attempts are impulsive reactions to stress, and many suicide attempts are made during a short-term crisis period. Storing lethal means properly can interrupt the impulse and give someone in crisis just enough time to reconsider a suicide attempt. Practicing lethal means safety is one way you can support yourself and others in reducing suicide risk. Lethal means safety is the process of ensuring that lethal means of suicide, like firearms and prescription drugs, are out of reach during times of increased stress.
The concept behind lethal means safety is exactly that – storing any lethal means safely. Take these steps to practice lethal means safety and help prevent suicide:
- Secure any current prescription medications and dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medications. Visit your local Military Treatment Facility MTF) which has convenient, safe and anonymous drop boxes as part of the Military Health System’s year-round prescription drug take back program.
- Store your firearms safely. Whether it’s within your own home, or in a home you may be visiting, make sure firearms are safely stored, separated from ammunition and secured in a locked location or with a safety device.
- Understand and share the Principles of Resilience with others. Navigate stress with confidence by predicting challenges, maintaining a sense of control, strengthening your relationships, fostering trust and finding meaning. Additionally, use the Stress Continuum to know your zone and recognize your level of stress and actions you can take.
For more resources on lethal means safety and actions you can take to take to help prevent suicide, visit the following resources:
- Improving the Safety of Lethal Means Prevents Suicide, Veteran’s Affairs
- Lethal Means, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
- Reduce Access to Lethal Means of Suicide, Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- #BeThere to Help Prevent Suicide, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- 5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain, National Institutes of Mental Health