Protective factors are those persona, familial and interpersonal factors that contribute to a person’s ability to cope with life. Protective factors should be considered in assessing a person’s risk of suicide.
- Sense of humor
- Support network (family, friends, coaches, teachers, clergy)
- Good problem solving skills
- Ability to express emotions and ask for help
- Sense of hope and optimism
- "Survivor" mentality
- Good nutrition and regular exercise
- Sense of achievements/success/esteem/being needed
- Connectedness to family, community, church
- Being flexible
- Sense of purpose
- Having access to and knowledge of resources for help
- Cultural beliefs
How To Talk With Someone Who May Be At Risk of Suicide
If you know someone who might be thinking of suicide, you can help them by listening. Very often people who think about suicide feel like they have no other options, like they have no control over their lives, and that no one cares about them. Keep in mind that talking with them about suicide will NOT put the idea into their minds. Often times, it is a great relief to someone that you have noticed that they are in pain and are willing to help.
- If the person is in imminent risk of hurting themselves, do not leave them alone. Call for help or 911.
- If this is not at a crisis stage, offer to sit and talk with the person and give them your full attention
- Tell them that you care, there is hope, and that you are willing to help them
- If the subject of suicide is hard to bring up, ask the question a little differently. For example, you could say “Do you sometimes feel so bad that you think of killing yourself?”
- Helping them realize that there are options other than suicide and that they do have some control over their lives may help them realize that suicide is not the only option.
- Try not to be judgmental, give advice, minimize their feelings, or solve their problems. You should never try to help a suicidal person by yourself. They need a lot of attention, support and a professional assessment.
- Do not agree to keep this a secret. This is a matter of life or death and you need to be able to get the person help.
Where to get help
- A counselor, therapist, or mental health clinic
- A family member or friend
- A teacher, guidance counselor, or coach
- Family doctor
- An emergency room
- Crisis help lines
- Samaritans Statewide number – 1-877-870-4673
- National Suicide Prevention Life Line – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)