Friends of distressed individuals can have a role in helping to reduce the nation’s rising suicide rate by showing compassion, optimism, and coaxing the distraught person to hand over guns, pills, and poison that they might use to kill themselves, said Catherine Barber, director of the Means Matter Campaign at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a April 21, 2016 Los Angeles Times article.

Barber was commenting on a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which showed a 24% increase in suicides in the U.S. between 1999 and 2014, including alarming increases among white women and Native Americans. About 42,773 Americans died of suicide in 2014, making it the 10th leading cause of death for all ages. Many who attempt suicide act impulsively—and if they have access to a gun, they are much more likely to succeed. Firearms claimed about half of the male suicide victims and about one-third of female suicides in 2014.

“Often, the moment for a friend to intervene is related to a crisis that is going to resolve, like a divorce,” said Barber.

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