Prevention & Protective Factors

Many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s decision to end their life. By understanding and recognizing the warning signs, people can learn how to talk to someone considering suicide and support them in finding help. Suicide is preventable, and we all have a role to play.

Creating opportunities for open and non-judgmental dialogue about feelings of suicide is one of the most important ways to prevent suicide. Helping people realize that they are not alone and that there are people who care and will help is crucial.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Always take talk of suicide seriously.
  • Stay calm and listen to what they are saying. Encourage them to talk. Show interest and empathy. 
  • Don't minimize or dismiss their feelings. Avoid statements such as, "You have so much to live for."
  • Sometimes, it can be a relief for someone to share their suicidal feelings and have them accepted without judgement.  
  • Ask directly about thoughts of suicide. If they say yes, ask if they have a plan and the time-line.
  • Help them to seek support. (For example, connecting them with someone they trust, calling a crisis line or taking them to a hospital).         
  • Stay with the person until they are safe.
  • Don't promise confidentiality. 
  • Safety is the priority. If you are able, remove obvious  means (i.e., drugs, sharp objects, firearms).
  • If someone is in immediate danger, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.  

Toolkit for People Who have been Impacted by a Suicide Attempt

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Protective Factors For Suicide

Protective factors can help us to manage life's challenges, build resilience and foster well-being. By engaging in things that bring us joy and hope, we can reduce the risk of suicide. Protective factors can include:

Physical Wellness
The mind and body connection. Movement, healthy eating and sleep are core fundamentals for health.  Having access to mental and physical care are essential to maintaining wellness.

Self
When we focus on a lot of things, we may forget to check in on ourselves. How are we feeling? What is important to us? What is close to our hearts?

Heritage, Culture & Traditions
Sharing cultural values and traditions are a link to the past and how we see the future. Rituals, sharing stories, and coming together can be comforting and grounding.

Community
Community involvement provides a sense of belonging and social connectedness. It can be a support, adding extra meaning and purpose to everyday life.

Spirituality
Reconnecting with your spirituality can look different for everyone. Think about spirituality as the way that we make sense of the world, and make meaning. How do you find direction in your day or in your life?

Intellect
Expanding knowledge, trying different things and being open to new ideas and opportunities is fundamental to brain health.

Play
This gives the mind freedom to explore, reduce stress, find joy and have fun.

Nature
The sights, sounds, smells and textures of nature can have a healing effect, creating moments of relaxation and invigoration.

Social Connections
Connecting with others builds strong bonds and relationships. They help to decrease isolation, improve mood and boost the immune system.

Emotions
Acknowledging positive and negative feelings is an essential part of wellness. Healthy coping skills build resilience and self-confidence.