Module 4 > Understanding the technical package
The CDC’s suicide prevention technical package presents a core set of strategies to prevent suicide based on the best available research evidence. First released in 2017, it helps communities and states prioritize activities and understand the role of multiple sectors in preventing suicide.
The technical package organizes effective efforts into seven broad strategies spanning risk prevention, intervention, and postvention. This list of core strategies can be used to assess state and local resource distribution and comprehensiveness of current efforts, and to develop a balanced, multi-pronged plan to prevent suicide. Each strategy features sample programs, policies, and practices, summarized in the table below. Local governments and coalitions can bring this information together with contextual and experiential evidence in their communities, including local data on populations at higher risk of suicide and awareness of a community’s particular needs during a catastrophic event.
The CDC also has released technical packages for other forms of violence including child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and youth violence. There is significant overlap in the strategies recommended to prevent suicide and these other forms of violence.
As the outbreak of COVID-19 progressed, several commentaries and other journal articles began to identify risk and protective factors that may be pronounced during the pandemic and emerging themes for suicide prevention. These themes overlap with the existing evidence base, with particular attention to the following strategies:
Strengthening economic supports - With concerns over the economic repercussions of the pandemic, opportunities exist to address financial stress by ensuring individuals can meet their basic needs, increasing financial safety nets, supporting small businesses, offering job search assistance and training, and subsidizing housing costs.
Increasing access and delivery of suicide care - COVID-19 has increased the need for telemental health and allowed states and communities to rapidly overcome previous barriers to implementing telehealth. Articles also mention the importance of integrating care into community-based services that residents already access.
Promoting connectedness - As communities employ physical distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation strategies, many articles discuss addressing isolation and loneliness for suicide prevention. These specifically focus on increasing social support and a sense of belonging through virtual connections (video conference, phone calls, remote volunteering, postcards, etc.) and mention older adults and rural communities as priority populations. Communities have adapted events that would have occurred in person to take place virtually and through apps and other innovations (e.g. meet-ups, ceremonies, etc.).
Creating protective environments - Many articles discuss the importance of limiting access to lethal means, including firearms, among those at-risk for suicide and mention at-risk healthcare workers as a population of focus. Creating protective environments has been particularly important as several communities have experienced increases in alcohol consumption, firearm purchases, and overall availability of lethal means such as firearms, opioids, and other substances while staying at home.
For a summary of actionable strategies for policymakers, healthcare leadership, public health and communities during the pandemic, read: