Many suicide attempts take place during a short-term crisis. Putting time and distance between lethal means and individuals who may be in crisis can prevent suicide and save lives. 

— National Alliance for Suicide Prevention

What are lethal means?

Lethal means refers to any instrument or object that someone in crisis might use to take their lives (e.g., medication, firearms, bridges). According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Means Matter Study, temporary “Means reduction” (reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal means)” is a powerful strategy in preventing these unnecessary deaths.

Facts about lethal means and suicide:

  • Medications are the most commonly used method for a suicide attempt in the U.S. while firearms are the most common method involved in suicide deaths.
  • The time between the decision to make a suicide attempt and the actual attempt is usually five minutes to an hour
  • Most people don’t substitute lethal means and if they do, they tend to use something less lethal. In that case, they will have time to think about the behavior or enough time for someone to find them.
  • The majority of people who survive a suicide attempt do not die by suicide later.
  • The majority of firearms used in a youth suicide belonged to a parent.

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