CDC Guide to Community-Scale Suicide Prevention Strategies

Last spring, the CDC released a technical package of policy, programs and practices that helps states and communities prioritize strategies to prevent suicide.

The CDC recommends a comprehensive approach to prevention efforts and provides examples of effective programs addressing each level of the social ecology with the understanding that some programs, practices and policies may impact multiple levels, thereby having a greater impact.

Suicide ideation, thoughts, attempts, and deaths vary by gender, race/ethnicity, age, occupation, and other important population characteristics. Suicide risk changes with coping skills, key risk and protective factors and resiliency. Multiple strategies that consider the social, economic, cultural and environmental context of individuals and communities may increase the chance of removing barriers to effective care and prevention.

The CDC proposes 7 evidence-based strategies to reduce or prevent suicide in its technical package:

◾Strengthen economic supports

◾Strengthen access and delivery of suicide care

◾Create protective environments

◾Promote connectedness

◾Teach coping and problem-solving skills

◾Identify and support people at-risk

◾Lessen harms and prevent future risk

Some of the strategies focus directly on youth, such as promoting connectedness and social interactions that encourage youth to seek help and confide in trusted adults, and teaching coping and problem-solving skills that can help youth tackle everyday challenges with peers, school, and other common sources of stress.

Other strategies focus on adults who work with youth, such as training teachers and coaches to identify and support youth who may be at risk of suicide and helping to lessen and prevent future risk (e.g. suicide contagion/”copy-cat” suicides) after a suicide has taken place.

The CDC strategies are designed to help schools, communities, public health officials, and other stakeholders work together to prevent suicide. The strategies are intended to work in combination and reinforce each other. Their implementation requires a collective effort across sectors. The technical package describes the approaches to advance each strategy and the evidence behind them.

To learn more about local suicide prevention efforts, click here.

If you or someone you know is suicidal call the National Suicide Prevention Life Line at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or the Keystone Health Crisis Intervention Program at 1-866-918-2555.