OPERATION Life OnlineProtective factors againstsuicideThere are many factors in our livesthat can help to protect us andothers against suicide.
OPERATION Life OnlineProtective factors against suicideThe factors that can lead someone to suicide can be complexand often involve a mixture of causal and circumstantial riskfactors.If you would like to read more about risk factors for suicide clickhereThere are also a number of factors called protective factors,that can greatly help to reduce the risk of suicide…
OPERATION Life OnlineWhat are protective factors?Protective factors can be seen as the actions or efforts aperson can take to reduce the negative impact of issues likemental health problems, transition from military life orisolation from friends and family.Positive steps can be made by someone experiencing suchissues or you could support someone to take these positivesteps to make changes in their life to protect against suicide.
OPERATION Life OnlineProtective factorsThere are many protective factors that can help to reduce the risk ofsuicide. Some important ones are:• Staying connected to community• Significant others (having someone to share concerns with, and tocare for)• Personal and environmental factors• Physical and mental health• Financial security• Spirituality and beliefNot all of these will be relevant to every individual, but some will berelevant for most people.
OPERATION Life OnlineStaying connected to communityBeing connected to a community is an important protective factor forwell-being.It means being regularly involved with friends, family and communitygroups to benefit from unconditional support that comes with theseconnections.Being connected with other people and the broader community canprovide structure to your day and allows for future planning. This inturn gives purpose to directions and allows hopelessness to becomehopefulness.
OPERATION Life OnlineFamily, friends and mates (significant others)Just as staying connected to community can provide moremeaning and structure in a person’s life, having arelationship with another person (significant other) can alsobe a powerful protective factor for suicide by reducingisolation.A significant other can be a spouse or partner, a parent orchild, a close mate or an old friend. Having someone toshare concerns with, talk with and to care for (and be caredfor), all contribute to a meaningful and valuable life.
OPERATION Life OnlineFamily, friends and mates (significant others)Sometimes people don’t want to burden others with theirproblems. However, stop and think about how you would feel ifthe situation was reversed. Would you want someone you caredabout to talk to you if they were struggling?Knowing that there are important people in your life you can relyon and talk to can help to ease the burden of stress by sharingthe ‘load’ with someone who cares for you.
OPERATION Life OnlinePhysical and mental healthBeing mentally and physically healthy are important to help youparticipate in a meaningful way in life, to work and to engage insignificant relationships.Physical health can sometimes be limited by factors such as ageand injuries, but there are still ways to take care of and increaseyour physical health with a healthy diet and regular exercise.Good mental health refers to the emotional, psychological andspiritual wellbeing of a person. You may not always havecomplete control over all of these elements but you can makeachievable plans that focus on what you can do rather than whatyou can’t do.
OPERATION Life OnlinePhysical and mental healthAs with physical health, a good diet and regular exercise benefitsyour mental health. Regular exercise can be a good way tomanage stress because chemicals, such as endorphins, that arereleased in your body during exercise, are mood-regulating andmake you feel better.Making the necessary changes for good health and wellbeingmay involve assessing your state of health, making an achievableplan, and setting a starting point.
OPERATION Life OnlinePersonal protective factorsGood physical and mental health, close friends and family andstaying connected to the community are personal protectivefactors.Other personal factors can include:• A strong sense of self-worth and hope for the future• A sense of personal control• Resilience (being able to bounce back from challenges in life)Being resilient is about developing coping strategies, learningnew skills and being adaptable. It is something that can belearned and practiced.
OPERATION Life OnlineEnvironmental protective factorsEnvironmental factors that can be protective include:• Safe and stable housing• Being responsible for others• Opportunities to participate meaningfully in work, leisure orcommunity groups.It is the interaction of these environmental factors with thepersonal factors of a person’s life that can protect and reducethe risk of suicide.
OPERATION Life OnlineFinancial securityAnother important protective factor against the risk of suicide ishaving financial security. Being able to pay for basic necessitieslike food and housing costs reduces stress on a person and theirfamily.Financial security for ex-service personnel is sometimescomplex... with pensions, readiness for work and job satisfactionbeing competing goals.Understanding financial security can be an important step tohelp with relieving financial stresses, therefore getting timelyand qualified financial advice is a good place to start.
OPERATION Life OnlineSpirituality and beliefA belief system is not necessarily about religion. It is a set ofbeliefs that sustains you and gives you a reason to go on. Beliefis personal and can take on many forms.As a protective factor it can help by:• Being part of a community• Helping to find meaning in life.Searching for meaning and answers to life’s challenges can bevaluable as a protective factor, and it may be helpful for you toexplore your value systems more closely.
OPERATION Life OnlineGetting timely helpThe timeliness of help is another importantprotective factor. It’s less about intervening in acrisis, than it is about getting the right supportat the right time.Having timely help and information can avoid acrisis and lead to improved, sustainable levels ofwell-being.
OPERATION Life OnlineNext stepsOne or all of these factors can be important to address in yourlife or the life of someone you are concerned about.Recovering from challenging circumstances is a process andtakes time, so making achievable plans to make positive changesin your life or someone you are supporting is a positive first step.To find out more about these factors or about dealing with thecausal and circumstantial risk factors of suicide, use theresources on this website.