Lethal Means Safety & Suicide Prevention
Lethal means are objects (e.g., medications, firearms, sharp objects) that can be used to engage in Suicidal Self-Directed Violence (S-SDV)*, including suicide attempts. Facilitating lethal means safety is an essential component of effective suicide prevention.
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is leading the way to both prevent fatal (death by suicide) and non-fatal (e.g., suicide attempts) suicidal behaviors among Veterans, and training healthcare professionals to promote lethal means safety among those at risk for suicide.
* - A shared understanding of terms associated with Self-Directed Violence (SDV) in its various forms is critical. For more information regarding the VHA Self-Directed Violence Classification System and Clinical Tooklit visit this page.
Collaborative decision making regarding lethal means safety can save a Veteran’s life.
Strategies to promote lethal means safety should be discussed with all Veterans with High or Intermediate Acute or Chronic suicide risk. For more information regarding risk stratification see the Therapeutic Risk Management Risk Stratification Table.
By providing lethal means safety counseling, tangible materials to facilitate lethal means safety (e.g., firearm locking devices, medication disposal kits), and ongoing follow up, health care professionals can prevent suicide.