Published on June 25, 2012 at 10:47 AM
In the third Series paper, Means restriction for suicide prevention, Professor Paul Yip of the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, University of Hong Kong, China, and colleagues review the evidence for means restriction in preventing suicides. Despite the fact that some suicide methods are difficult to restrict, the researchers highlight the fact that means restriction remains one of the most effective ways to reduce suicide rates.
The success of these methods derives largely from the fact that people attempting suicide, whether unplanned or carefully planned, tend to choose whichever method is most readily available to them. In many cases, removing this method appears to delay suicidal actions sufficiently for them to pass by without fatal effects.
Professor Yip states that: “The common perception is that if somebody wishes to die by suicide, they will do so by whichever means are available to them. However, contrary to these widely-held beliefs, there is a growing body of research to suggest that restricting access to the most lethal means of suicide has a significant effect in reducing suicide rates.”
Successful examples of means restriction include the ban on lethal pesticides in the mid-1990s in Sri Lanka, which contributed to a halving in the rate of suicides between 1995 and 2005. However, despite these apparent successes, the authors point out that means restrictions can often encounter significant resistance in communities due to the inconvenience they pose to non-suicidal individuals.
According to Professor Yip, “Appropriate media coverage and community endorsement could lead to a greater acceptance of means restriction. Even for suicide methods that aren’t easily restrictable, concerted community action in this area can be important in raising awareness of the problem.”
Source: The Lancet