Communities

Communities and Coalitions

A key strategy of New York State’s multifaceted approach to suicide prevention is creating suicide safer communities. Suicide safer communities may be created through:

  • Raising awareness of suicide as a public health problem in communities
  • Training community members who may come into regular contact with individuals who are at-risk for suicide – or gatekeepers – to identify and assist those who are thinking of suicide. Visit our Training Options page to learn more! (link to page)
  • Connecting individuals with mental health and suicide prevention services in their communities and marketing free services such as Crisis Text Line
  • Developing and strengthening strategic partnerships to advance suicide prevention among all populations at risk
  • Creating and strengthening county suicide prevention coalitions that are positioned to select and implement suicide prevention initiatives that target the needs of their local communities
  • Improving data collection on causes and circumstances surrounding suicide deaths so that data may be used to inform local suicide prevention efforts

County Coalitions

Preventing suicide across New York State requires concerted effort from individuals, organizations, and communities. Given that each part of the state is unique, local participation is critical to prevent suicide within communities.

In New York State, county suicide prevention coalitions are a driving force for suicide safer communities. Almost every county in the state has a coalition or task force that brings together key stakeholders to develop and implement suicide prevention plans that are unique to their community. Stakeholders range from law enforcement, education, health systems, and Veterans’ Affairs to substance use agencies, medical examiner and coroners’ offices, clergy, and individuals with lived experience.

Email spcny@omh.ny.gov or visit our Contact Us page to ask about a coalition or task force near you.

Resources for Coalitions

SPCNY offers support, technical assistance, and consultation to coalitions in the areas of:

  • Strategic planning
  • Program evaluation
  • Evidence-based approaches
  • Regional meeting facilitation
  • Gatekeeper training
  • Postvention response
  • Seed funding to carry out specific suicide prevention projects

If you are interested in support in any of these areas, please email spcny@omh.ny.gov or visit our Contact Us page.

You may access select coalition training modules.

 

Who is At-Risk in My Community? What Can My Community Do to Reduce Risk?

Risk and Protective Factors

There are several factors that increase risk for suicide. There are also individual, interpersonal, organizational, and community factors that can protect one from suicide. Learn more about risk and protective factors and their association with suicide.

Addressing the Needs of Specific Populations

Thoughts of suicide and the potential to act on those thoughts do not discriminate. Suicidal thoughts and actions may be present in all ages, genders, cultures, and ethnic groups. However, certain populations and demographic subgroups are at higher risk. Click here for more information.

Specific Populations

Some populations are more susceptible to suicide risk. Below is a list of specific populations that are at higher risk:

  • Veterans
  • Middle-aged Men
  • Seniors
  • American Indians / Alaska Natives
  • LGBTQ
  • Individuals with Justice System Involvement
  • Postpartum Mothers and Fathers
  • Multicultural Considerations

Specific Populations

To learn more about each population and to view resources, please visit our Specific Populations page.

Learn More

Creating Safer Environments / Lethal Means Reduction

Suicide is cyclical in nature. Suicidal urges come and go. Because many suicide attempts occur with little planning during a short-term crisis, if the means to make the attempt are not there, it is likely that the suicidal urge will dissipate before any attempt is made. Therefore, reducing access to lethal means is critical to preventing suicide among those at-risk. This includes removal or safe storage of firearms, prescription medication, and other high-risk items. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has identified reducing access to firearms as a way to save the most lives in the shortest amount of time. Visit the AFSP Project 2025 website for more information!

Healthcare providers, family, and friends all play a key role in lethal means reduction and creating safer environments around those who are at-risk for suicide. Family members should safely store guns and/or prescription medication during times of crisis. Healthcare providers should conduct a Stanley Brown Safety Planning Intervention with patients who are at-risk, step six of which is counseling patients and developing a plan for reducing access to lethal means.

The following free, online trainings are available for healthcare providers:

  • Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) training instructs participants how to:
    • Identify those who would benefit from lethal means counseling,
    • Ask about access to lethal methods, and
    • Work with patients and families to reduce access.
  • Safety Planning Intervention for Suicide Prevention training:
    • Describes the intervention and how it can help
    • Explains when to work with individuals to create a safety plan
    • Describes the steps in creating the safety plan.

There are mobile apps available so that safety plans are easily accessible to individuals at-risk. Encourage your patients or clients to download MY3 or the Stanley Brown Safety Plan app and discuss their safety plans during appointments.

Resources

Risk Factors Associated with Suicide

There are several factors that increase risk of suicide:¹

  • Family history of suicide or child maltreatment
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Mental illness, particularly clinical depression
  • Alcohol or other drug misuse
  • Physical illness and chronic pain
  • Hopelessness, impulsiveness, aggressiveness
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Isolation
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Unwillingness to seek help due to stigma

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide: Risk and protective factors. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/riskprotectivefactors.html.

Risk Factors Associated with Suicide

Explore the association of specific risk factors with suicide. View the provided resources to determine how you or your organization can increase protective factors and prevent suicide.

Learn More