Reducing access to lethal means

By Megan Clark

Unattended misuse of firearms, weapons and medications can be harmful and even deadly to household members and guests.

Whether it’s a neighbor, child, service provider or family member, potentially dangerous items need to be secured for everyone’s safety. It takes all of us to create a safe community.

Did you know that just over 50% of deaths by suicide are by firearm? Firearm ownership is high among American households (approximately 48.9% of Kansans are gun owners), so the effort of securing firearms is one way in which our community can prevent suicide.

Data tells us that most people don’t want to die by suicide; they want relief from mental pain. Firearm locks can prevent a crisis from becoming fatal by giving people a chance to rethink the choice of killing themselves.

Most youth who experiment with prescription drugs for the first time obtain them from family members or a friend’s family member without consent.

To prevent misuse, make sure to properly dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medications. For regularly used medications, keep them locked up and secured so they cannot be accessed by others.

Medication lock boxes and medication deactivation pouches are tools available to prevent prescription drugs from being used in unintended ways.

Now is the time to take inventory in your home for firearms, weapons, medications and alcohol and find secure ways to lock them up or remove them and create a safe environment.

We can play a role in suicide prevention, substance use prevention and unintended harm. We can do this by restricting access to these potentially deadly means in our households and encouraging others to do the same.

To access free means restriction devices (gunlocks, medication lock boxes and medication deactivation kits) contact the Johnson County Mental Health Center, 1125 W. Spruce St. Olathe,

Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday. Call ahead (913-826-4200) or stop in and get your free devices and help save lives.

Megan Clark is prevention coordinator at the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

A small pile of pills and capsules on a background with words related to using caution when taking medication.