MIRECC / CoE
Lethal Means Safety & Suicide Prevention
Lethal means are objects (e.g., medications, firearms, sharp instruments) that can be used to inflict self-directed violence. Lethal Means Safety (LMS) is an intentional, voluntary practice that reduce one’s suicide risk by limiting access to those lethal means. Promoting LMS among those with elevated suicide risk is considered an important component of effective suicide programs. The Veterans Health Administration and other healthcare systems have increased their efforts to promote LMS for patients with elevated suicide risk. Efforts to promote LMS are a key element of the VA’s 2018-2028 National Strategy for Preventing Veteran 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.
Patients who reduce their access to lethal means are reducing their risk of dying by suicide. Review the evidence here.
Providers are encouraged to discuss LMS with any patient they believe would benefit from this risk mitigation strategy. Strategies to adopt LMS should certainly be discussed with all Veterans who are at Intermediate or High Acute or Chronic suicide risk based on Therapeutic Risk Management Risk Stratification Table.
This can be accomplished by engaging in LMS counseling, which is patient-centered counseling aimed at promoting safety behaviors by aligning evidence-based recommendations with patients’ preferences and values. Learn more here.
Hear more about LMS here: LMS podcast
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