The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention: Research, Policy and Practice

By Rory C. O’Connor; Jane Pirkis | Go to book overview

35
Suicide Prevention Through
Restricting Access to Suicide
Means and Hotspots

Ying-Yeh Chen, Kevin Chien-Chang Wu,
Yun Wang, and Paul S. F. Yip


Introduction

In this review, the terms suicide and suicide deaths refer to self-harm behaviors that have resulted in fatal consequences, and suicide attempts refers to self-harm behaviors (irrespective of apparent motive) that did not lead to death. Suicide is a complex phenomenon arising from the interplay of multiple factors such as psychiatric disorders, psychological characteristics, life events, and genetic/biological factors, to name a few. When someone feels hopeless and suicidal, access to specific methods of suicide is a vital issue; it serves as a crucial element in determining the likelihood of suicidal thoughts being translated into a suicide attempt or death (Hawton, 2007). In this chapter, we first review the concept of cognitive availability, namely, the awareness of certain methods of suicide, particularly technical information about novel suicide means that may be acquired through media reporting. We then illustrate the characteristics of individuals adopting different methods of suicide and explore the existing evidence on the effectiveness of prevention practices that restrict access to the means and sites of suicide. Our chapter complements that of Azrael and Miller (Chapter 36), which provides additional insights into restricting access to means.


Rationale and Evidence

Restricting access to suicide means and popular suicide locations is an important element of suicide prevention strategies in many countries (Chen, Chen, Chang, Wong, & Yip, 2015; Lee & Liao, 2006; The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2005; United Nations, 1996; US Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). Such activities reflect burgeoning evidence showing that restricting access to a wide variety of methods and sites of suicide is an effective and relatively simple approach to suicide prevention (Beautrais, 2007b).

The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention, Second Edition. Edited by Rory C. O’Connor and Jane Pirkis. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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