Module 4 > Applying the technical package > Considerations for strategy development
Regardless of how long you’ve been working on suicide prevention, the following considerations can guide you in assessing existing efforts at a state, local, or organizational level and mapping out potential new efforts.
When developing strategies, it is important to understand that one organization or activity will not solve the complex problem alone. Preventing suicide requires comprehensive efforts across different partners in a community who are invested in implementing and learning from a multitude of strategic efforts. Often in response to a catastrophic event, the focus turns more to intervention and postvention (coping with loss and grief), but it’s important to also pay attention to suicide prevention and strengthen protective factors that might be compromised as a result of the catastrophic event, such as connections to community support.
We can further prevention by pursuing strategies that will create more equitable conditions for wellbeing in the long term. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, some communities rapidly invested in permanent Wi-Fi infrastructure in neighborhoods with limited access, enhancing residents’ ability to connect with friends and relatives online, as well as seek employment and participate in distance learning. Other places have implemented policy changes that support marginalized populations and will remain in place after the pandemic subsides. For an example of this, see the description of Maryland’s telehealth law in Module 2. Policy and systems changes that focus on underlying factors in communities like norms and culture, social connection, employment and other determinants of health have the potential to create equitable and lasting change.
General questions to understand your local context:
What populations are most impacted by suicide in your community and why? Consider data from before the catastrophic event and any information on how the catastrophic event has affected priority populations. Refer to Module 3 for more details.
What risk and protective factors are important to address in the current context? Revisit Risk and Protective Factors from Module 1 and any responses you might have jotted down for the reflection questions. Community members, especially those with lived experience, have important insights on local needs and assets. You can read stories from advocates and those with lived experience on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention blog.
What agencies, organizations, or community groups support priority populations in your community?
The following questions can help you and your partners assess strategies that you are considering to implement. Answering “yes” to several questions in this set may indicate that a strategy is worth pursuing further. After selecting strategies, it is important to figure out how to monitor impacts of it among priority populations. More information on learning and evaluation is shared later in this module.
Once you've entered your responses, move your mouse over the table until the icons appear, then click the "download" icon to save to your computer and print.
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Braiding and blending funding in Colorado
Beyond identifying individuals experiencing suicidal despair and connecting them to resources, a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention includes upstream prevention, intervention, and postvention. This requires forging relationships with non-traditional suicide prevention partners and creating innovative solutions to complex community issues.
When Colorado developed its Violence and Injury Prevention-Mental Health Promotion Strategic Plan (2016-2020), partners thought through how different aspects of their work and public funding streams interact. By identifying a key set of shared protective factors, programs began to set shared goals across multiple forms of violence and substance use prevention work. State government agencies, including the Office of Suicide Prevention at the Department of Public Health and Environment, came together as a funders collaborative to support primary-prevention efforts in communities across Colorado by pooling available state and federal dollars.
Within the Office of Suicide Prevention, staff support local initiatives across the state by braiding together several funded projects including state and federal funding streams reserved for suicide prevention with other initiatives supporting overdose prevention, child maltreatment prevention, and interpersonal violence prevention. See the Office of Suicide Prevention’s Annual Report, 2019-2020 for more details.
This booklet brings together concepts from Modules 1 through 4. The purpose of it is to support you and your partners in mapping your current suicide prevention efforts to the strategies outlined in CDC’s Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices and plan for future efforts. It is meant to be completed collectively in a group setting. There are no right or wrong answers, but your responses can help you identify strengths and opportunities for moving forward, as well as new partners that you may want to engage.
If you prefer to download the booklet before filling it in, or if the tool doesn't appear in your browser, you can click to download the booklet.
Resource: CDC’s Select, Adapt, Evaluate tool offers further guidance on developing violence prevention strategies.
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