Poisoning (Overdose/Ingestion)

Overdoses are by far the most common attempt method.

Items most often used for poisoning (overdose/ingestion) are:

  • Medicines (both prescription and non-prescription)
  • Drugs or alcohol
  • Cleaning agents and supplies
  • Insecticides and pest control
  • Gardening agents
  • Antifreeze

Some medicines are much more lethal in overdose than others.

  • No medicine or combination of medicines is good in high amounts
  • Over-the-counter medicines, such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, and cold medicines can be very dangerous when taken in high amounts

Safety Tips

  • Remove or lock up all poisonous agents, such as medicines and household or garden chemicals.
  • Keep only a very limited supply of poisons in your home and store them in a lock box.
  • Lock and monitor all medicines, prescription and over-the- counter, of all family members in the home.
    • Youth will overdose on any medicine they can get, even if it is not theirs. All medicines should be accounted for at all times.
  • Control and manage your child’s medicines by giving them at prescribed times and watching your child take it.
    • Youth should not be in charge of their medicine at this time.

Sharps, Strangulation

Sharps can cause a unique temptation for youth struggling with self-harm ideation. Sharps used for cutting or self- harm can be:

  • Knives    
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Razors    
  • X-Acto knife
  • Paperclips    
  • Blades
  • Tools

Items most often used for suffocation or strangulation are:

  • Plastic bags    
  • Ties
  • Belts    
  • Scarfs
  • Bedsheets    
  • Cords
  • Ropes    
  • Shoelaces

Note: Elaborate set-ups from high places are not needed for hanging. The only thing needed is leverage. This could be done with door knob or bed post.

Safety Tips

  • Remove or lock up all sharps and potential strangulation items.
  • Some parents and caregivers struggle to lock all sharps or strangulation items in the family home:
    • Another option (although less safe) is to limit the number of knives or strangulation items that are out. This will make it easier to see missing items.
  • To remove all sharps and strangulation items, think about alternatives:
    • Electric razors rather than razors
    • Items with limited cords
    • A check-in/check-out system
  • Completely remove the most dangerous items!


Most youth who die by firearm suicide use a family member’s gun/rifle.

  • 85 to 90 out of 100 self-inflicted gunshot wounds end in death as compared to 1 to 2 out of 100 overdose, cutting, or stabbing self-injuries end in death
  • If highly lethal means are not easily accessible (especially firearms), suicidal people are more likely to delay an attempt or resort to less lethal means

Do you own a gun? Does your child have access to a gun?

Think about all access your child might have, such as grandparents, hunting buddies, and friends.

Safety Tips

During a crisis, it is best to completely remove guns from the child’s home and car. You can use:

  • Support people. A trusted friend or relative to store them away from home.
  • Gun storage facilities.
  • Lock boxes, safes, trigger locks, and cable locks that have key restrictions at home.

Be triple safe!

  • Guns should be stored locked and unloaded, preferably in a lock box or gun safe.
  • The ammunition should be locked and stored in a separate place.

Safe Storage

Other safe storage strategies below for sharps, fire starters, weapons, medicines, and chemicals.

  • Use locked storage for hazardous materials or weapons.
  • Choose a careful hiding place.
  • Store the key or combination in a separate place.
  • Assume your child knows where the key or box is hidden.
  • Change the keypad combinations.
  • Store lethal combinations, such as bleach and ammonia or firearms and ammunition, in separate places.

Remember: the main goal of restriction is to lock or remove unneeded items from the home.

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