“Life really is a roller coaster and it just determines how we weather those,” explained Ozark Center Director of Crisis Services Debbie Fitzgerald.
That’s why Fitzgerald wants to remind everyone to keep their home suicide-safe.
“You’re less likely to have a lethal suicide attempt,” Fitzgerald added.
That includes the safe storage of firearms.
“What we need to do is store them in a gun cabinet and it’s preferable to keep the bullets from the firearm,” Fitzgerald continued.
If someone in the home has recently gone through a mental health crisis, there are even further steps you can take, like removing firearms from the home completely.
“It’s not that gun owners are more suicidal than those that are not,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s just that in that moment that they’re feeling very desperate, that they may pick up the firearm and it is a highly lethal means.”
A gun safety lock kit can also help — they’re free.
“We partner with the Joplin Police Department and have free gun safety lock kits available here at the crisis center.”
Additionally, it’s recommended to not keep a large supply of medication in the home.
“There are charcoal disposal bags that we give out free of charge at the crisis center that you can put unwanted medications in and then drop them in the regular garbage that you would normally dispose of your trash.”
Sometimes it’s not even about disposing of medication — it’s about just properly storing it, especially as someone continues to work on their mental health.
“If you’re someone who is thinking, ‘I’ve been on an anti-depressant or a medication and I’m not sure I should have a month’s supply,’ use a pill box and have someone keep the rest of it under lock and key,” Fitzgerald explained.
Fitzgerald stresses, again, people who are on medication aren’t more suicidal, it just helps to take the precaution before a crisis occurs.
“It’s just in that moment of time, when the crisis feels overwhelming, they may reach for that and if it’s less accessible, then they won’t have it readily available and it may delay thee attempt or they may not attempt suicide.”
Because, in a mental health crisis, prevention is key.
“There’s a matter of hours or a day where someone is at risk for self-injury or suicide risk, and if we can keep their environment safe, then that will pass and they will start to get release and feel better.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and needs someone to talk to, we urge you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.