Suicide Prevention

There are 3 approaches used when trying to prevent suicide and to create suicide-safer communities.

Prevention – Whole population approach

Suicide is a complex issue. Anyone has the potential to be at risk of suicide. There are many reasons why an individual comes to consider suicide. What we do know is that there are things that happen to people through the course of their life and some people are able to manage these events e.g. bereavement, debt, relationship break-up, depression and do not develop thoughts of suicide, while others do begin to have thoughts of suicide. For some people it can be just one event, and for others it may be a combination of events. We know there are some activities that can be delivered within communities that can help prevent people from developing thoughts of suicide e.g. Resiliency training and health promotion activities are examples, early detection and treatment of depression are also prevention activities. However, even with depression, most depressed people do not kill themselves and not all people who die by suicide are depressed.

Examples of suicide prevention activities are:

  • Raising awareness and reducing the stigma of talking about suicide
  • Promoting emotional and mental health
  • Promoting help-seeking
  • Enhancing problem-solving
  • Facilitating the enhancement of self-esteem
  • Targeted work with `at risk` groups
  • Dispelling the myths that become attitudinal barriers to the prevention of suicide


Intervention – Individuals considered to be at risk

This approach focuses on the individual at risk of suicide, as one to one interaction and is aimed at preventing thoughts of suicide becoming suicidal actions.

Intervention skills are important, but why?

  • Primary Prevention alone is unlikely to eliminate suicidal thoughts/behaviours
  • All types of caregivers need to be trained
  • Large numbers of caregivers need to be trained
  • Many people considering suicide signal their distress and their intent
  • Training can help us see and respond to these invitations to help
  • It can provide the confidence to ask about suicide if we are concerned about someone`s safety
  • It can provide us with the tools to help prevent the immediate risk of suicide
  • Click here for details on Trust training

Postvention – Care for those affected or bereaved by suicide

Postvention work and support aims to prevent further suicide amongst those bereaved or affected by suicide.

  • Those bereaved/closely affected by suicide are at increased risk of death by suicide in some cases
  • Other long-term consequences include relationship difficulties, drug/alcohol abuse, fatalistic outlook etc.
  • Stigma/taboo prevents many from accessing the help they need

The person who attempts suicide needs help. A lot of people who know or feel connected to the person who attempted suicide or killed themselves can also be affected often in a big way and they need help too.

This effect is usually not talked about because of the taboo around talking about suicide but it can be very tragic. Helping these people is also a kind of prevention work as one effect of another persons’ suicide or attempted suicide might increase the risk of them attempting suicide also. These activities are now known aspostvention—with post referring to things coming after a suicide death or injury.
Within South Eastern HSC Trust there are a number of postvention initiatives:

  • New Life Counselling for people affected by suicide
  • CRUSE Bereavement Care
  • Bereaved by suicide support groups – contact (028) 9151 0182 for further information