Controlling the environment to prevent suicide: international perspectives

Can J Psychiatry. 2000 Sep;45(7):639-44. doi: 10.1177/070674370004500706.


Background: Suicide and suicidal behaviour are multifaceted events requiring complex solutions. Controlling the environment is a neglected solution, despite strong support for this approach from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Method: To discuss this approach from a global view, this review is written by authors from various cultures: American, Australian, Canadian, Chinese, Cuban, Dutch, Indian, Irish, Japanese, Lithuanian, Native North American, Russian, and South African.

Results: We examine gun control to illustrate the environmental control approach; however, the worldwide diversity of suicide methods calls for diverse responses. Further, controlling the environment encompasses more than restricting the means of suicide, which we illustrate with examples of toned-down media reports and restricted medicine availability.

Conclusions: Controlling the environment may be a viable strategy for preventing suicide, although research shows that few clinicians implement such approaches.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment*
  • Suicide / ethnology
  • Suicide Prevention*