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A Parent’s Guide to Lethal Means Safety

Store It Safe and Reverse the Trend of Irreversible Actions

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Ohio AAP

In partnership with the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Ohio AAP), Life Side Ohio is aiming to bring its Store It Safe resources to youth and families of Ohio.


Warning Signs

Suicidal ideation can manifest in different ways. It’s important to look out for signs that may indicate that your child might need help, including:

  • Not acting like themselves and reckless behavior
  • Talking or writing about suicide
  • Withdrawing from friends/activities
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Giving away belongings for no logical reason
  • Stops taking care of themselves

Learn more about how to diagnose and prevent youth suicide:


How to Prepare For a Mental Health Crisis

If your child ever has a mental health crisis, it’s crucial to recognize when it happens, provide a safe environment at all times, and follow a plan to ensure your child’s safety:

Step 1

Restrict Access

Your child should not have unsupervised access to any lethal means, including: firearms, medications, and alcohol. Keep these items locked away and ensure your child does NOT know the location of the keys.
Step 2

Make a Safety Plan

Name people your child feels comfortable reaching out to in a crisis. Ask your child how they feel supported. Have agreed upon coping strategies available, and practice healthy skills to train the brain before times of crisis.
Step 3

Understand Crisis Will Happen

Remember — the first hour of a crisis is the most overwhelming. The safety plan will help the child get through the initial crisis safely. Once the situation has been de-escalated, appropriate care can be sought after.

Learn more about managing your child’s mental health crisis:

Barriers are Effective at Preventing Suicide

Education alone is not enough. Barriers should be put in place and can mean the difference between life and death.


  • 90% of suicide attempts with a firearm are fatal
  • Nearly 2/3 of all US firearm deaths are due to suicide
  • The rate of firearm suicide by teens is up 61% over the past 10 years


  • Even if experienced with firearms, youth should only have supervised access to them
  • Keep any firearms that are not under your direct control locked away
  • Youth should not know the combination or location of keys to the firearm safe
  • Ammunition should also be locked when not in use
  • Consider temporarily removing firearms from the home if someone is suicidal

Learn more about risks and barriers in suicide prevention:

Tips for Secure Firearm Storage

During a suicidal crisis, it is important to have guns locked away safely. This will act as a barrier to prevent your child from acting on suicidal thoughts. When not in use, guns should be unloaded, locked and secured in a location unknown to your child. Ammunition should be stored in a separate location.

Below are a few effective options to store your guns and ammunition:

Cable Lock


Lock Box


Firearm Safe


Learn more about safe gun storage options:

Additional Resources

What To Do If You or a Friend Feels Suicidal

Crisis Text Line:
Text HOME to 741741

Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:
Call or Text 988

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Funding for the resources on this webpage is made possible under grant number SM086105 from the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The views expressed in written training materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of CMHS, SAMHSA, or HHS; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Get Involved

Life Side Ohio is by your side and in your community with resources on suicide awareness, prevention, mental health, and education.  We're united for life, because without life, there’s loss and grief.