What is it about Lethal Means Safety (LMS) that makes a difference in suicide prevention? LMS is about increasing the distance between thoughts of suicide and action. In this week’s episode, we are joined by Dr. Joseph Simonetti, MD, MPH, physician and suicide prevention researcher with the Rocky Mountain MIRECC. Dr. Simonetti guides us through the fundamentals of lethal means safety, why it’s important, and provides suggestions on how to ensure that conversations about lethal means safety are Veteran-centered.
We focus specifically on firearms considering their disproportionate lethality and that firearm-related injuries account for more than 2/3 of Veteran suicides (more than in the general US population). During high-risk periods, temporary off-site storage of firearms may be the safest option by allowing an individual the opportunity to ride out an emotional crisis, connect with other resources, and for other evidence-based treatments to take effect. Dr. Simonetti dispels common misconceptions about discussing firearm safety in the context of collaborative mental health care. His poignant anecdote about what he does to help suicidal Veteran patients with easy access to loaded guns reminds us why lethal means safety is critical for effective suicide safe care.