Means matter when it comes to suicide prevention
In an effort to prevent suicide, many suicide experts have focused their attention for the past two decades on identifying the risk factors, warning signs and reasons why a person attempts suicide. We've believed that if we understood the conditions that lead to despair and hopelessness and suicidal behavior we could prevent these unnecessary deaths. But we now know that we must also focus on how they attempt suicide.
Although the majority of youth suicides are completed by hanging, there are an increasing number of lethal overdoses with prescription medications so it is imperative that we reduce access to these lethal means.
Consider these facts:
- Overdosing on prescription medication especially opiates is increasing as a way in which young people die by suicide.
- The vast majority of youth (under age 18) who die medication overdose used a family member's prescribed drugs.
- Consider temporarily removing prescription medications when a child or youth is going through an especially difficult time or keeping them at a neighbour or friend's house for safe custody.
- Families should store their medicatons in a lockable cupboard or drawer; parents shouldn't assume that their child does not know where the medications are stored or where the key to a locked cupboard is hidden.
- Mental health and medical providers should receive training on how to talk with suicidal youth and their families about lethal means.
- Parents should monitor all medications in the home. If your prescription is disappearing faster than normal your child may be hoarding medication.
- Medicines should always be stored out of reach and sight of children.
- Old and unused medicines should be disposed properly or returned to the pharmacy.