What are ways to reduce access to methods of suicide?

Maureen Q. Russell, MPH, RN
Geriatric Medicine

Reducing access to methods of suicide is called "Means Restriction." Effective strategies include:

  1. Safe firearm storage (gun safes, trigger locks, storage of ammunition seperately from firearms) and removal of firearms from the home of someone "at risk."
  2. Prudent dispensing of medications - both prescription and over the counter drugs.
  3. Limiting access (preferably under lock and key) of pesticides and harmful household products.
  4. Bridge barriers and fencing along railroad lines.

Harvard School of Public Health provides and excellent overview of this subject - Means Matter:


Research from a number of countries suggests that reducing access to particular methods of suicide leads to reduced suicides by that method, and, in some cases, to reductions in the overall suicide rate. Research findings span a range of means in different countries, but the following strategies have resulted in decreased suicide rates:
  • Reducing toxicity of domestic gas
  • Legislation regarding firearm ownership and safety
  • Reduced carbon monoxide emissions from vehicle exhaust gas
  • Reduced package size of analgesics
  • Barriers erected at sites popular for jumping
  • Introduction of clinically safer drugs
  • Locked storage for pesticides
Research suggests also that national suicide rates reflect various levels of restriction of alcohol use. Restricting postings on the Internet of detailed instructions for methods of suicide poses a difficult challenge.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.