California’s Suicide Prevention Plan is Framed by Four Strategic Aims:
STRATEGIC AIM 1: Establish a Suicide Prevention Infrastructure Similar to other public health challenges, preventing suicide statewide demands a strong infrastructure of information, expertise, evaluation, and communication. This infrastructure must support the systematic delivery of best practices, so success is not dependent on the valiant efforts of a single person, agency, or setting. Everyone can potentially play a role in suicide prevention. Information must be disseminated through trusted channels. Leaders must sustain suicide prevention as a public health priority and define the roles that partners play in planning, delivering, and monitoring efforts. Resources must be integrated and coordinated. Data must be standardized and routinely collected and monitored.
STRATEGIC AIM 2: Minimize Risk for Suicidal Behavior by Promoting Safe Environments, Resiliency, and Connectedness Risk for suicide in all communities can be reduced by reducing environmental threats to safety, while building individual, family, and community resiliency. People at risk for suicide often experience extreme ambivalence about the desire to die or live, and experience a high degree of suffering. Eliminating or reducing access to a lethal method, such as a gun, creates time and opportunity for intervention during what are often transient crises. People can be taught skills to manage stressors, and to understand when they need to reach out for additional support. Increasing social connectedness can reduce stigma and isolation. Media, including the entertainment industry, can prevent suicide through responsible reporting of suicide death, by destigmatizing mental health needs, and by highlighting mental health resources.
STRATEGIC AIM 3: Increase Early Identification of Suicide Risk and Connection to Services Based on Risk Risk may elevate for some despite efforts to create safe environments and build resiliency. Anyone can recognize the warning signs of suicide and can learn to communicate effectively with people at risk to determine the type of support needed. Screening tools can identify people at risk for suicide in many settings, while brief interventions – like those used for problem alcohol use – empower people at risk to recognize their personal warning signs, identify coping strategies and a supportive social network, reduce access to lethal means, and seek professional help to manage suicide crises. Crisis services and support also can assist with assessing for suicide risk and connection to services, and must be widely available, accessible, and varied to benefit the diverse range of people in need of help.
STRATEGIC AIM 4: Improve Suicide-Related Services and Supports Timely services and supports must be available to people experiencing suicidal behavior, especially attempted suicides, and people experiencing the suicide death of a loved one. Mental health and substance use disorder providers must be equipped to help those at risk and trained to deliver care that reflects best practices. For example, low-cost, high-impact post-hospitalization postcards and referral services are effective strategies for preventing future suicidal behavior and must be a standard component of aftercare following hospital or emergency department discharge. Swift response to support families, loved ones, and, in some cases, entire communities, must follow every suicide.
Download the full Strategic Plan