Promote Social Connectedness and Support

Social support and connection are key protective factors against suicide. Positive and supportive social relationships and community connections can help buffer the effects of risk factors in people’s lives. Programs and practices that promote social connectedness and support are one element of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention.

What Is Connectedness?

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adopted promoting connectedness as its strategic direction for preventing suicidal behavior.1 The CDC defines connectedness as “the degree to which a person or group is socially close, interrelated, or shares resources with other persons or groups.”1 

Connectedness can include:1 

  • Connectedness between individuals (e.g., friends, neighbors, co-workers)
  • Connectedness among family members  
  • Connectedness to community organizations (e.g. schools, faith communities)
  • The connection of groups (e.g., minority groups) to their cultural traditions and history

Connectedness and support can be enhanced through social programs directed at specific groups (such as older adults or LGBT youth), as well as through activities that support the development of positive and supportive communities. 

Positive and supportive social relationships and community connections can help buffer the effects of risk factors in people’s lives.

Take Action

  • Support the development of relationships between youth and positive adults in their lives (e.g., teachers, coaches).
  • Help build positive attachments between families and organizations in the community (e.g., schools and tribal and faith-based organizations).
  • Create and sustain peer-delivered services and support groups. 
  • Implement activities in educational institutions that help students increase and strengthen their social networks and connections.

It’s important to remember that not all social connections are healthy. Suicide prevention programs should promote programs and practices leading to positive and supportive relationships. Engaging in data-driven strategic planning can help you assess your needs and assets, set goals, review possible program options, and determine which interventions fit your situation and desired outcomes.

Reference

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategic direction for the prevention of suicidal behavior: Promoting individual, family, and community connectedness to prevent suicidal behavior. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/Suicide_Strategic_Direction_Fu....