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Zero suicides

The Indiana Suicide Prevention Network (ISPN), comprised of state, organizational, and individual level stakeholders, is committed to a bold and aspirational goal of zero suicides for the state of Indiana.

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The structure of the national Zero Suicide seven essential elements provides the backbone of the state of Indiana's framework, promoting a systematic approach to suicide prevention.

Suicide affects everyone; therefore, this approach is applicable to all Hoosiers regardless of demographics. We firmly believe that suicide is a public health issue and not solely a mental health issue.

In order to reverse the trend of increased suicide thoughts, attempts ,and deaths, we need to break out of stereotypical patterns for partners in suicide prevention (i.e., mental health) and build new relationships with non-traditional helpers (e.g., baristas, employers, liquor store clerks, barbers, etc.). It is our hope that by broadening our approach, we will reduce suicide in Indiana.

We recognize that suicide prevention efforts across this broad spectrum will vary significantly and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to suicide prevention. The intent of this framework is to help guide individuals, communities, and organizations to create their own suicide prevention plans that address their unique needs and opportunities.

With that in mind, this framework was designed to be flexible as some plans may address all seven elements, while others may only address one or two. It is also the intent of the Indiana Suicide Prevention Network, in conjunction with the Indiana State Division of Mental Health and Addiction, and other key partners, to provide ongoing technical assistance for the utilization of this framework.

Types of suicide prevention efforts

When we talk about suicide prevention, we typically mean anything and everything we do to prevent suicide. But the word “prevention” can actually be used to refer to three types of activities:

  • Primary prevention, which seeks to prevent the onset of a condition or harmful behavior.
  • Secondary prevention, which seeks to treat people who exhibit signs of a condition or risks closely associated with that condition.
  • Tertiary prevention, which treats people already afflicted by a condition, and aims to lessen its long term impact.

Effective suicide prevention is comprehensive and requires a combination of efforts that work together to increase suicide awareness, while also promoting intervention, resilience, postvention, and a commitment to social change. Most of our suicide prevention efforts have focused on secondary prevention – that is the identification, referral, and treatment of people at risk for suicide. However, it is also important to alter the life trajectories of people before they become suicidal – that is, to engage in primary prevention.

Primary prevention

Suicide primary prevention strategy focuses on the unique contextual influences and experiences that work together to place an individual on a path toward or away from suicidal behaviors. Called risk and protective factors, these underlying elements help to determine an individual’s ability to avoid or engage in harmful behaviors that lead to suicide. For example, influences that are known to facilitate or predict suicidal ideation, attempts, or death are known as ‘risk factors’, while influences that are known to inhibit or reduce the likelihood of these things are ‘protective factors’.

Suicide, like other human behaviors, has no single determining cause. Instead, suicide occurs in response to numerous biological, psychological, relational, environmental, and societal influences that interact with one another, often over time. Utilizing the social ecological model, prevention occurs on multiple levels – from the individual, family, and community levels to the broader social environment.

Warning signs

People thinking of suicide show warning signs, even unintentionally, nearly 90% of the time. It is important that we know the warning signs so that we can intervene before it is too late.

Here is a list of common warning signs related to suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Extreme mood swings

If you notice any of these warning signs, especially if they are new, have increased, or seem related to a painful event, loss, or an unwanted change in their lives, talk to the person about your concern and/or contact a mental health provider or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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