Protective factors are skills, strengths, or resources that help people deal more effectively with stressful events. Protective factors enhance resilience and help to counterbalance risk factors (negative life events such as academic, occupational, or social pressures). Protective factors may be personal, external, or environmental. A protective factor reduces the likelihood of attempting or completing a suicide. Increasing protective factors can decrease suicide risk. Strengthening protective factors should be an ongoing process to increase resiliency when increased risk factors or other stressful situations occur. Positive resistance to suicide is not necessarily permanent; programs that support and maintain protection against suicide should be ongoing.
Personal Protective Factors
- Attitudes, values, and norms prohibiting suicide, for example strong beliefs about the meaning and value of life.
- Positive social skills, such as decision-making, problem-solving, and anger management.
- Good health and access to mental and physical health care.
- Strong connections to friends, family, and supportive significant others.
- Cultural, religious or spiritual beliefs that discourage or prohibit suicide.
- A healthy fear of risky behaviors and pain.
- Hope for the future; optimism.
- Medical compliance and a sense of the importance of health and wellness.
- Impulse control.
- Strong sense of self-worth or self-esteem.
- Sense of personal control or determination.
- Good frustration tolerance and ability to regulate emotions.
- Positive beliefs about the future, ability to cope and life in general.
- Access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help-seeking.
- Coping skills.
- Reasons for living.
- Being married or a parent.
External/Environmental Protective Factors
- Strong relationships, particularly with family members.
- Opportunities to participate in and contribute to school and/or community projects/activities.
- A reasonably safe and stable environment.
- Restricted access to lethal means.
- Responsibilities/duties to others.
- Sense of Belongingness.