Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Removing The Means Of Suicide

Training today on suicide prevention by removing means. Take away points: suicide is turning out to be much more impulsive than thought.  Even those who think about it for months describe decision-points of “less than an hour” (70%) including “less than 5 minutes” (27%) at the end.  Interrupting them during that time reduces suicides 90%.  Therefore, removing the means even temporarily – locking up the pills, getting the guns to an uncle’s house, taking the keys to the car, etc – has enormous effect. Somehow an interruption breaks the spell.

Bonus: sometimes the family is frozen and the suicidal person is the best one to make the move to remove the means.


james said...

How do they get the 90% number?

It seems fashionable to talk of Kevorkian as a hero, but every fall we're told to watch out for warning signs of suicidal students. I wonder if they will stop the warnings some year, in a triumph of ideology over humanity.

Texan99 said...

I've always been haunted by the story of a sports celebrity who got into a wreck in Houston on an overpass. His buddy (his lover?) was killed in the wreck; in a split-second decision he threw himself over the railing and killed himself, too. One minute he was driving along with his buddy; the next he was dead. How could he decide and execute so quickly?

Anonymous said...

The will to live and the fear of death is very powerful. It takes some intense pain and emotion for people to think of taking their own life, and an exceedingly strong will to carry it out depending on the tools (falling from great height, easier and more fun to do than trying to stab yourself through the throat).

Thanatos may be very strong for a moment, but as time goes on, life regenerates its force and blocks it up again.

Guilt is a longer term corrosive. Generally life needs something to feed on, a reason to live, and guilt wears that away to almost nothing at the end if there's no rationalization or justification available to recover from guilt.

Donna B. said...

I always think of the spur of the moment, impulsive suicides more as accidents. Those can be reduced by removing the means.

But, like ymarsakar writes, those suffering long-lasting guilt and the accompanying overwhelming despair... there are always means.

The glaring point to me from the statistics given is that the information is gleaned from unsuccessful suicides. Or am I missing something there?

Where do the numbers come from?

Don't take this as a complaint, because I'm all for preventing that type of suicide. I'm all for preventing all of them -- but that type is much easier to prevent.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

They were speaking to those of us who work with the chronically suicidal, so they were careful to get good numbers, that measured what they said they did.

We do have people about whom we say "she is eventually going to commit suicide. Eventually she will succeed." Yet even among those, the attempts can be widely spaced, and if they can be brought through a half-dozen crises over a period of a few years, sometimes even they break through to the other side and live. They may still be unhappy, and a return to the enjoyment of life may take years - but it happens.

You raise the right questions, though, and I will think about how to frame a longer post.

Anonymous said...

Here's some good news. Well, not really.