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Lethal Means Safety

How to keep yourself and your loved ones safe

While some people think about suicide for weeks, months, or even years before acting on their thoughts, many people attempt suicide shortly after experiencing a crisis.  Because of this, it is important to reduce access to anything in a person’s environment that they could use to hurt themselves.

There are different methods that people use to attempt suicide, but in North Dakota, firearms are the most common way people die by suicide.

Did You Know?
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In North Dakota, nearly 3 in 5 suicides are by firearm.


84% of firearm deaths are suicides.


Firearms are very lethal.
90% of suicide attempts by firearm end in death.

Leaving firearms unlocked and loaded increases risk of suicide.

Here are some tips for approaching these conversations:
  • Be direct, empathetic, and respectful.

  • Emphasize your desire to keep the person safe.

  • Directly ask about firearms and any intent to buy firearms.

  • Explain how easy access to lethal means increases suicide risk.

  • Discuss available options for safe storage of lethal means.

  • Emphasize that these actions are temporary.

  • Explore barriers to safer storage options.

Other ways to stay safe:
  • Prescription medication and pills

    • These can be given to a parent, caregiver, or trusted person to lock up safely or brought to a pharmacy or police department for disposal.

  • Ropes

    • Remove these from the home during periods of increased risk.

  • Sharp objects (razors, knives, scissors, etc.)

    • Remove from the daily environment; ask for help from family members to supervise use of any of these sharp objects.

Consider the following steps to improve firearm safety:
  • Store firearms unloaded, locked, and secured.

    • Consider a cable or trigger lock, or a gun safe.

  • Store the key to the gun lock and ammunition separately from the firearm.

  • Temporarily store firearms away from the home during times of high stress.

    • Enlist the help of a trusted friend, family member, or colleague to remove firearms.

For more information on how to help someone who is thinking of suicide, someone who has experienced a suicide loss, or yourself please visit this webpage.

​Learn more and access the 8-minute online training Suicide Prevention and the Secure Storage of Firearms: Conversations for Everyone

If you are a gun shop or range owner and want to know more about the unique role you can play in preventing suicide, email our team.

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