Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, claiming the lives of over 48,000 people per year. Two of the leading methods for suicide are firearms and self-poisoning (overdose). The State of Virginia is promoting safe and responsible care of lethal means to promote wellness and prevent suicide through its Lock & Talk Virginia program.
Lock & Talk Virginia Suicide Prevention Initiative
The Lock & Talk Virginia program is based on suicide prevention strategy and research from the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Its components include:
Safe Handling and Secure Storage of Lethal Means
Lock & Talk Virginia distributes safety devices and instructions to help its community members secure prescription medications and firearms.
By distributing safety devices such as medication lock boxes, medication deactivation kits, gun trigger locks, and gun cable locks, Lock & Talk is encouraging safekeeping of the leading methods of suicide.
- Nearly two-thirds (60%) of U.S. suicides involve firearms
- Child and teen firearm suicide rates have increased by 65% in the past 10 years
- One in five suicides in the U.S. employed overdose as the primary method
- 80% of overdose suicides involve prescription medications
Limiting Access to Lethal Means for a Person in Crisis
Reducing access to lethal means like firearms and medications can determine whether or not a person at suicide risk lives or dies.
A suicidal crisis is often difficult to predict, and can be triggered by mental health or substance abuse issues, stress, and external events (such as job loss, arrest, or a breakup). A suicidal crisis can also escalate quickly from feelings of distress to suicidal thoughts and actions.
Since a suicidal crisis can be difficult to predict and escalate quickly, reducing access to lethal means can help save a person’s life before a crisis occurs.
Talking About the Problem of Suicide
Evidence shows that talking about suicide and following up with loved ones can help save lives and reduce stigma. Talking encourages help-seeking behaviors and helps those who’ve survived suicide – or the loss of someone else from suicide – in their personal healing.
Fairfax County Distributes Safer Lock Box for Lock & Talk Initiative
Fairfax County, Virginia distributed Gatekeeper Innovation’s Safer Lock Box as part of its regional Lock & Talk Northern Virginia program. The Safer Lock Box is a medication lock box that utilizes a 4-digit combination code to secure prescription medications. Find more information on where to get your medication lock box and gun locks (while supplies last) at fairfaxcounty.gov.