Resources : Risk & Protective Factors of Suicide

Risk & Protective Factors

Risk and Protective Factors

Definition: According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, “Risk factors may be thought of as leading to or being associated with suicide; that is, people
‘possessing’ the risk factor are at greater potential for suicidal behavior. Protective factors, on the other hand, reduce the likelihood of suicide. They enhance
resilience and may serve to counterbalance risk factors.” (From www.sprc.org)

Risk Factors 1

  • Biopsychosocial Risk Factors
  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Some major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide

Environmental Risk Factors

  • Job or financial loss
  • Relational or social loss
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide that have a contagious influence

Social-cultural Risk Factors

  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with help-seeking behavior
  • Barriers to accessing health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Certain cultural and religious beliefs (for instance, the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
  • Exposure to, including through the media, and influence of others who have died by suicide

Protective Factors 2

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help-seeking
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide
  • Strong connections to family and community support
  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and nonviolent handling of disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self preservation