Building Up Protective Factors for Suicide Prevention

Suicide does not discriminate and impacts us all. As part of the Mental Health Center of Denver’s commitment to enrich the well-being of the people and communities we serve, we take a proactive approach to suicide prevention.

When talking about suicide prevention, we sometimes forget to ask what helps people to stay safe – to hold on a little longer – during times of crisis.

Suicide prevention is a twofold process: one, reduce risk; two, increase protective factors. Online media and cyber bullying, peer pressure, drug and alcohol use and major life stressors, like loss or illness, can rapidly impact someone’s sense of well-being. So, how can we build up protective factors in a world that moves so quickly?

We adopted the Zero Suicide protocol, a national model and statewide initiative aimed at reducing deaths by suicide, increasing support and collaborating care across behavioral health, physical care, spiritual and criminal justice systems.

“This aspirational challenge provides a framework to transform the entire healthcare system, so we can intervene with people before it is too late,” said Steve Fisher, LPC, co-leader of our Zero Suicide implementation team.

Suicide prevention takes a collaborative approach and we have increased access to care through our community partners. By integrating services across the lifespan, we meet people where they are and provide support when someone needs it most. Mental Health Center of Denver staff are embedded in community settings, such as schools, faith communities, doctor’s offices, youth centers and courts, to name a few.

Protective factors, such as connectedness, life skills and self-esteem, help safeguard people from suicide. Emerson St. for Teens & Young Adults, 2Succeed in Education & Employment, Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being and Voz y Corazón are some programs we offer that help to reduce isolation, increase supports, strengthen coping skills and develop a sense of purpose and connection.

Our suicide prevention efforts are directed to help the people we serve and the larger community by cultivating a caring, hopeful and supportive environment. By reducing risks and connecting people with resources and supports, we can make an impact on someone’s well-being.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) names the following as protective against suicide:

  • Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions
  • Life skills (including problem solving skills and coping skills, ability to adapt to change)
  • Self-esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life
  • Cultural, religious, or personal beliefs that discourage suicide

The Mental Health Center of Denver provides access to many services to the people we serve that help to reduce isolation and increase supports. Some of them include:

By assisting people in connecting with resources and supports (and connecting ourselves), we remind one another that darkness is temporary, and that we matter.

For 24/7 support over the phone, text and at walk-in centers, contact Colorado Crisis Services: