Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Reducing access to lethal means does matter

POLSON — Evidence from many countries and cultures show that limiting access to lethal means and methods of self-harm is an effective strategy to prevent self-destructive behaviors in certain individuals. Often referred to as “means restriction,” this preventive intervention approach is based on the belief that a small but significant number of suicidal acts are, in fact, impulsive and of the moment. A number of suicidal behaviors result from a combination of psychological pain or despair coupled with the availability of the means by which to inflict self-injury. If intervention is not possible when an individual is in a state of psychological pain, a self-destructive act may be prevented by limiting the individual’s access to the means or methods of self-harm. Evidence suggests that there may be a limited time effect for decreasing suicide, as over time, individuals with ongoing suicide intent may substitute a more available for the restricted, less available methods.

For every two victims of homicide in the U.S. there are three deaths from suicide. You can be better prepared if you consider what suicide prevention is about and act upon that knowledge which begins with safety at home. Montana and Wyoming are two states among others that have high suicide rates. It’s not because people in gun-owning states are more suicidal than people in states where fewer people own guns, but that suicide attempts in states with lots of guns produce more completed suicides. Reducing access to lethal means is something we can all do to increase the odds that a suicide attempt will end in care, not death. Studies clearly show that where there are more guns, there are more suicides. Too often parents believe that if they hide their guns their kids would never use them in a suicide attempt, but parents routinely underestimate a youths’ ability to find and handle guns at home. Among gun-owning households, the risk of youth suicide is lower in those storing all guns locked and unloaded than those storing guns less securely.

Homes can be made safer by limit access to means by taking simple precautions:
   • Store guns away from the home (particularly if a family member or friend is going through a difficult time with depression, drug or alcohol problems, divorce, arrest, domestic abuse, partner assault);
   • Have someone trustworthy temporarily keep the guns stored away from the home;
   • Make sure guns are locked and unloaded and kept in a securely locked cabinet or safe (make sure it truly can’t be opened by an unauthorized person);
   • Use cabinets that don’t have glass or flimsy locks; Use trigger locks (key or combination). Insure that firearms in the home are not casually accessible to anyone, especially a child. Gunlocks are available at the Polson Police Department located at 106 1st Ave E, Polson, Montana 59860 (406) 883-8212

To learn more, go to meansmatter.org

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