The quickest and most effective way to keep yourself safe during your suicidal crisis is to remove your access to any means of self-harm. Suicidal crises can come on very quickly. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can easily be triggered by an external event, become emotionally distraught, and decide that now is the time to kill yourself. To keep yourself safe, I would like you to take these steps.
Means of self-harm might include guns, razors, scissors, knives, needles, syringes, neckties, ropes, prescription or recreational drugs, over-the-counter meds, alcohol, household chemicals, or cleaners. Guns are particularly lethal because you if have a gun nearby you can quickly and easily use it to make a suicide attempt, and the inflicted injury is almost always fatal
Reducing access to means of suicide is by far the most effective way to keep you safe. This is because the urge to die by suicide can come on very suddenly and can cause you to act on this urge very quickly. Additionally, we know that the time before your first thought of suicide and your attempt can be remarkably as short as ten minutes. Thus, surviving a suicidal crisis often means waiting until the urge passes. If you don’t have access to the means of harming yourself, you will be more likely to survive this momentary impulse.
For example, when I was suicidal, I asked my partner Joan to take my stash of antidepressants and hide them. I was afraid that in a moment of desperation I might swallow them all. She took ownership of my pills until my episode was over.
When one of my suicidal support group members said he had a gun in his home, the other group members implored him to give the gun to a neighbor. The group member followed the group’s advice, and he is alive today.
A 1978 study found that 90 percent of people who were interrupted during a suicide attempt on the Golden Gate Bridge did not die from suicide later.
For many years in Britain, people took their lives by asphyxiating themselves using stoves heated with coal-derived gas. A high rate of suicide continued in the country until the British government phased out coal in favor of the less toxic natural gas. By the early 1970’s, Britain’s national suicide rate had dropped by nearly a third.
The takeaway from all this is if you deny yourself the means to carry out a self-harming behavior, you will be less likely to look for another means to take your life.