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Means safety is important to suicide prevention

newspaperNot all people who suicide are mentally ill, nor are all with mental illness suicidal.  What is important to remember is that a feeling of hopelessness is an overwhelming common factor, and usually suicide is a result of a combination of personal problems.

Certainly the challenges that come with managing a mental illness, or not having begun to manage or even recognize a mental illness can increase the risk for suicide thoughts.  That is why Lock and Talk Virginia is focusing on lethal means safety during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Saving lives starts with putting time and distance between a suicide method and the time a person at risk experiences intense emotional pain.  Here’s how you can help if you are concerned about someone in your life.

Reduce easy access to dangerous items at home.   That includes:

  • Firearms – Because firearms are the most lethal among suicide methods, it is particularly important that you remove them until things improve at home, or, second best, lock them very securely. It is the leading cause of suicide death in Augusta area.
  • Medications – Don’t keep lethal doses at home; this is the second leading cause of suicide deaths in Augusta area.  Your doctor, pharmacist, or the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) may be able to help you determine safe quantities for the medicines you need to keep on hand. Dispose of excess medications safely.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol can both increase the chance that a person makes an unwise choice, like attempting suicide, and increase the lethality of a drug overdose. Keep only small quantities at home. Guidelines courtesy of Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health.

This is an important step, but only the first step.  Connecting the person at risk to the help they need for healing is a vital part of suicide prevention.  If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255

For local mental health care services through Valley Community Services Board:

24-hour Emergency Services:
540-885-0866 or 943-1590