Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM)

Date & Time:

Thursday, November 30
8:30 AM - 12:00 PM


Virtual Training

Who should attend:

Any Stark County individual in the mental health, medical, and human service professions who engage families in safety planning during times of heightened suicide risk.


Suicide claims the lives of almost 50,000 Americans per year, with suicide rates climbing steadily over the past 25 years. Existing prevention programs have focused primarily on improving knowledge and attitudes about suicide and improving treatment access for at-risk individuals (Brent & Brown, 2015). Those efforts, while important, may be relatively ineffective in preventing deaths resulting from suicidal risk that develops very rapidly. Additionally, most existing suicide prevention programs do not consider the use of highly lethal methods such as firearms as a factor in the fatality of suicide attempts. Firearms account for 55% of suicides in the United States, and evidence suggests that ready access firearms is associated with higher rates of suicide fatalities. Given the ready access to firearms that is common in American homes, the more widespread use of means safety interventions may be a necessary tool to reverse the accelerating rates of suicide.

In response to these concerns, the Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) clinical workshop is a 3-hour training that aims to those in mental health, medical, and human service professions to counsel individuals and their families to temporarily reduce access to firearms and dangerous medications during times of heightened suicide risk. CALM clinical workshops feature four components. In part one, participants will be introduced to the means safety prevention framework, providing a rationale based on a large body of empirical evidence and demonstrating how it strengthens broader suicide prevention strategies. Participants will also explore how characteristics of suicidal processes often can be disrupted by reducing immediate access to lethal means. In part two, participants will learn how to incorporate means safety steps into existing risk assessment and crisis response protocols as well as the range of options for increasing means safety. Additionally, participants will learn how to utilize means safety approaches flexibly and creatively to reduce access to means other than firearms and medications that are related to a suicide plan. Part three focuses on effective communication around means safety. Participants will practice utilizing motivational interviewing techniques to have collaborative discussions around means safety planning, with an emphasis on temporariness and increasing the safety of the at-risk individual. Participants will also learn to employ culturally sensitive and technically accurate language around discussions of firearms. Finally, part four gives participants the opportunity to integrate the knowledge and skills discussed in the first three parts in a series of role plays based on actual cases seen clinical settings.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to list reasons why including means reduction strategies is a critical component of responding to suicide risk.
  2. Participants will be able to competently discuss strategies for means reduction with individuals at risk for suicide and their families.
  3. Participants will be able to incorporate means reduction strategies into existing evidence-based safety planning interventions.

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