Part I of II
For three weeks, I've been writing about suicide prevention without defining suicide prevention. I've been assuming that what I mean by that term is interpreted by others in the way I intend. But, given that other terms I use are often interpreted in ways different than what I have in mind (i.e., "social work," most often interpreted as child protection, or "public health," usually thought of as related to epidemic control), it is probably useful to define suicide prevention.
From a public health perspective, which is the perspective that I present in this blog, there are three stages of prevention: primary, secondary, and tertiary.
Primary prevention takes place before suicidal behavior occurs. The target of primary prevention is the cause of suicidal behavior. Strategies including building protective factors, increasing access to mental health services, decreasing access to lethal means, and addressing media coverage of suicide could all fall into this stage.
Secondary prevention takes place as suicidal behavior happens, with the goal of reducing the injury that may occur. Early recognition of suicidal ideation and appropriate referral to a mental health professional are secondary prevention interventions.