Suicide - Avoid Risks

Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide

Risk and protective factors exist for suicide. The presence of risk factors does not mean someone is suicidal; they indicate that risk is greater. Protective factors may mitigate risk factors. Each person’s situation is unique, so if you are concerned about yourself or someone else, contact us and we will help.

Risk Factors 

avoid risk signA combination of individual, relationship, community and societal factors contribute to the risk of suicide. Risk factors are those characteristics associated with suicide—they might not be direct causes.

  • Family history of suicide

  • Family history of child maltreatment

  • Previous suicide attempt(s)

  • Mental disorders, particularly clinical depression

  • History of trauma

  • Alcohol and substance use disorders

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies

  • Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma)

  • Local suicide clusters

  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people

  • Barriers to accessing healthcare, including substance use disorders and mental health treatment

  • Loss (relational, social, work or financial)

  • Major physical illness

  • Easy access to lethal means

  • Stigma and perceived stigma associated with asking for help

  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life, via the media and via the internet)

Protective Factors 

Protective factors buffer individuals from suicidal thoughts and behavior. To date, protective factors have not been studied as extensively or rigorously as risk factors. Identifying and understanding protective factors are, however, equally as important as researching risk factors.

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders

  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking

  • Family and community support (connectedness)

  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships

  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes

  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation

  • Restricted access to lethal means when someone is feeling suicidal

  • Effective communication about suicide, including responsible reporting and health promotion

 

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