Risk and Protective Factors

Learn more about eliminating the risk of suicide.

If you believe someone is in danger of taking their own life or has made a suicide attempt

Stay with them.   

  • Do not leave them alone or let them leave - take away their car keys if necessary.
  • Try to find out if they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other substances.
  • Make sure that you keep yourself safe.

Make the environment safe.

  • Remove access to any likely methods of self-harm or suicide. This means removing guns, alcohol, poisons, pills, sharp knives, ropes, cords and anything else that could be used for self-harm.

Get help.

  • Tell a family member or friend immediately what's going on.
  • Get help from a trained professional or service as quickly as possible.  People can help you in all sorts of ways. Our own families, friends, colleagues and networks are always the best place to start. You might be surprised that you have people in your own networks who work in mental health service.
  • The person may need to be hospitalised until the suicidal crisis has passed.
  • Involve them as much as possible in the process of seeking help - try to get their consent. 

Protective factors 

Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that can lessen or eliminate the risk of suicide among whānau, hapū, iwi, families and communities. Where protective factors are developed then we increase the health, well-being and resilience of whānau, hapū, iwi, families and communities.

Personal Protective Factors

  • Good self-care 
  • Access to health care and social services 
  • Access to support and help 
  • Self-esteem and a sense of belonging 
  • Having a secure identity 
  • Hopefulness 
  • Having a positive outlook on life 
  • Positive relationships and good social support 
  • Supportive whānau, hapū and iwi connections 
  • Positive community support 
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and positive ways of dealing with disputes and challenges 
  • Having a positive sense of responsibility for others 
  • Cultural/spiritual/religious beliefs that support self preservation.

Cultural Protective Factors

  • Understanding Māori and/or Pasifika concepts
  • Strengthening of cultural identity 
  • Access to cultural resources
  • Reconnect and maintain those connections to whānau, hapū iwi, Pasifika families and communities
  • Add Māori and/or Pasifika perspectives into suicide prevention programmes
  • Use outcome measures appropriate to the Māori and/or Pasifika world view and experiences.

Drawing on existing expertise and experience

  • Recognise suicidal behaviours/actions early and support whānau to get help early 
  • Access to services that are culturally relevant and appropriate 
  • Encourage whānau participation and value whānau members' contributions 
  • Therapeutic alliances 
  • Competent assessment processes 
  • Services that value and promote the dignity and safety of the whānau and the whānau member 
  • Ongoing education programmes in place for whānau and their whānau member.

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