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Protective Factors

Identifying protective factors can be challenging. Often researchers compare the characteristics of individuals who attempt suicide with those who do not. Although this method has been used in a large number of studies, the conclusions that can be drawn are limited because they are correlational. Despite the limitations, a number of suicide protective factors have been identified. According to the CDC, these factors include:

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking
  • Family and community support
  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health relationships
  • Skill in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent way of handling disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation (US Public Health Service, 1999)

Since the CDC created this list, the research community has identified additional protective factors and refined our understanding of the existing protective factors. For adolescents, for example, researchers have show that the following factors are associated with reduced suicide ideations, attempts and completed suicidal acts. 
  • School attendance
  • School climate and safety
  • Extracurricular activities Self efficacy & locus of control
  • Future orientation and positive affect for the elderly