Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Suicide and Access to Lethal Means

The NY times highlighted one cornerstone of suicide prevention in an article this weekend: restricting access to lethal means (like guns or pills) so that an emotionally distraught person has fewer deadly options at hand. The article goes on to point out that "gun suicides are often committed by people whose history doesn't suggest a serious problem. In studies, a quarter to a third of those who killed themselves were not in contact with a psychiatrist at the time of death, and the majority were not on psychiatric medicines." The article sites research that shows that suicidal acts are a momentary desperation that is often deescalated if the suicidal person encounters a barrier. "Up to 50 percent of people who attempt suicide make the decision to do so within minutes to an hour before they act....  They may be depressed or have contemplated suicide, 'but the final decision comes very quickly, and there’s often ambivalence up to the moment,' Dr. Reidenberg said."