HKU research team publishes paper on
“Means restriction for suicide prevention” in the Lancet
22 Jun 2012
In the paper entitled “Means restriction for suicide prevention” to be published in the Lancet this Friday (June 22), Professor Paul Yip of the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, University of Hong Kong, China, and colleagues review the evidence for preventing suicides by controlling access to suicide methods. Although it can be difficult to limit access to some suicide methods, this approach is 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 concerted action taken to remove bags of charcoal from easily accessible, self-service areas in shops, to locked storage, resulting in a dramatic drop in the number of people ending their life in this way. 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 and corporate leaders’ endorsement could lead to a greater acceptance of means restriction. Even for suicide methods that aren’t easily restricted, concerted community action in this area can be important in raising awareness of the problem. Here, we appeal to corporations to rise up to these good practices developed by years of research and for everyone in the community who are each able to play a role in suicide prevention to join hands in saving lives. We appeal to the local supermarkets to reinstate the restriction of means measure with charcoal packs and to extend to other locations which have a higher rate of charcoal burning suicides; we urge the MTR corporation to speed up the installation of platform safety doors along the east rail line to reduce accidents and suicides; and finally we request the support of the media to report suicide news responsibly to avoid copycat suicides among vulnerable people.”*
Professor Paul Yip, the HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, University of Hong Kong, China, T) +852 2831 5232 E) email@example.com
Text adapted from press release in the Lancet.
Note to editors: *Quote direct from author and cannot be found in text of Series paper
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