Having people trained in suicide intervention and suicide prevention is not enough to prevent suicide.
That’s a huge step, and that’s something all of us can do but there are four big categories for suicide prevention that are promoted by the World Health Organization; four big categories of categories or initiatives that we can do.
The first is: we need open and easy access to mental health care. So, we may have identified your person at risk, you may have helped them, but now you need to be able to get them into care. So that needs to have low barriers and open access.
The next thing is that we need to have responsible media reporting. We don’t want suicide to be glamourized or sensationalized in the media because we don’t want to create a contagion effect or a cluster. We don’t want to make it look like a good idea, or something that’s really attractive and appealing to people. But we don’t want the media to not talk about it either, because that just promotes the stigma and the taboo and the secrecy of it all. We want the media to have open, constructive dialogue, thoughtful dialogue about suicide. I am thrilled to be able to say that the media has come so far in the last few years around this very issue. There’s lots of work still to be done but the attitudes are really changing and it shows in our news reporting.
The third best practice or third big category of things that need to get done is we need to reduce access to lethal means, we need to make it very difficult for people to access things that can kill them. An example would be barriers on bridges, blister packs for medications, gun control, making it more difficult for people to access these kinds of things. And the fourth is education.
Education includes research and surveillance, really understanding what is going on in our community and why as well as technical training for our clinicians and general training for community members. We all need to be more informed, have a better understanding, and know how to apply and implement our knowledge so that we can help one another.