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Protective Factors in Suicide Prevention

What are Protective Factors?

Protective factors are influences that make it less likely that individuals will develop a mental health problem. They include biological, psychological, or social factors in the individual, family, or community. Protective factors help to lower the risk level of suicide and other self-destructive behaviors. These are strengths that we can develop and enhance for citizenry in our community.

Individual Protective Factors

  • Abstinence from alcohol and other drugs
  • Help-seeking behavior
  • Friends and supportive significant others
  • Hope for the future
  • Having goals
  • Pets/Connectedness to others
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Medical compliance and a sense of the importance of health and wellness

Family Protective Factors

  • Strong interpersonal bonds, especially with family and adults
  • Family cohesion
  • Parental presence at key times
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation
  • Ability to cope and handle crises

Community Protective Factors

  • Reasonably safe, stable environment
  • Effective care for mental and physical health and substance use problems
  • Availability of counseling or trusted adult in the life of a youth
  • Restricted access to firearms or other lethal means
  • Opportunities to contribute/participation in school and/or the larger community

This list of risk factors was developed by the National Center for Suicide Prevention Training.