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Means Restriction

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Means Matter when it comes to suicide prevention

In an effort to prevent suicide, YSPP staff and other suicide experts have focused our 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.

Given that the majority of youth suicides are completed with a firearm and that there are an increasing number of lethal overdoses with prescription pain killers, it is imperative that we reduce access to these lethal means.

Sad boy leaning on desk

"Too many kids
are crying with bullets
instead of tears"

Seattle Mama Doc Blog regarding kids and guns
Guns In Your House?

An article about kids and guns written by a Seattle Children's doctor on her blog, Seattle Mama Doc

Consider these facts:

  • Firearms are the #1 way in which young people die by suicide.

  • The vast majority of youth (under age 18) who die by firearm suicide used a family member’s gun.

  • While the numbers are considerably lower, suicide attempts with prescription opiate-related overdoses are on the rise.

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Survey of Social Workers

An article in the latest edition of Suicide & Life Threatening Behavior entitled, Suicide & Firearm Means Restriction: Can Training Make a Difference, reports on the findings of a survey of nearly 700 licensed social workers in the State of Ohio. The authors conclude that training mental health professionals in firearm assessment and safety counseling is an important aspect in addressing the reduction of suicide by firearms.

"The time is ripe for social workers to become vested in firearms means restriction as a way to prevent suicide and training is an easy and viable method to acculturate the profession."


  1. Consider temporarily removing guns when a child or youth is going through an especially difficult time.

  2. Families should store their gun(s) locked and unloaded with ammunition locked separately; parents shouldn't assume that their child does not know where the gun is stored or where the key is hidden.

  3. Mental health and medical providers should receive training on how to talk with suicidal youth and their families about lethal means.

  4. Police jurisdictions need to be willing to work with families who want to permanently or temporarily remove their guns.

  5. Parents should monitor all medications in the home.

  6. Parents should consider locking up medicines, if necessary. Medicines should always be stored out of reach and sight of children.

  7. Old and unused medicines should be disposed properly.

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ARTICLE: Lok-it-Up: Partnering for Safety
Download File (pdf)
Firearm Related Suicides: 10-24 year olds
Download File (pdf)
Safely Dispose of Unused Medicine
Download File (pdf)

WA State: Prescription Pain Reliever Abuse Among Teens
New Lok-it-Up Website
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