Restricting Access to Methods of Suicide: Rationale and Evaluation of This Approach to Suicide Prevention
Restriction of access to means for suicidal behavior, especially dangerous methods, is a key element in most national suicide prevention strategies. In this paper the rationale for this is discussed, including the fact that suicidal impulses are often brief, that availability of a method may influence both the occurrence and outcome of a suicidal act, and that if a favored means becomes less available it does not always result in substitution by another method. Examples of evidence for the effectiveness of restricting availability of suicidal methods on subsequent suicidal behavior are presented, plus the supporting findings from studies of long-term survivors of serious suicide attempts in which only a minority have gone on to die in subsequent suicide attempts. Finally, factors likely to determine the effectiveness of modifying access to means for suicide are considered, together with the main elements that need to be addressed in evaluation.