Strategic Planning

How to Decide What to Implement

Any suicide prevention activity, program, or other effort should be guided by a strategic planning process. The strategic approach described below can be applied to any aspect of your work—whether you are starting a new program or assessing your progress midway through a project.

The Strategic Planning Approach

SPRC’s strategic planning approach to suicide prevention includes the following six steps.

Step 1. Describe the problem and its context. Use data and other sources to understand how suicide affects your community and describe the problem and its context.

Step 2. Choose long-term goals. Identify a small set of long-term goals (e.g., reduce the suicide rate among a particular group).

Step 3. Identify key risk and protective factors. Prioritize the key risk and protective factors on which to focus your prevention efforts.

Step 4. Select or develop interventions. Decide which combination of strategies (e.g. increase connectedness, increase access to evidence-based treatments) best address your key risk and protective factors and will be a part of your comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. Then find and review existing programs and practices to select approaches that have evidence of effectiveness and are a good fit for your settings, populations, needs, and resources. If you can't find a program that meets your needs, you may need to adapt a program or create a new one (see Evidence-Based Prevention).

Step 5. Plan the evaluation. Use your evaluation plan to track progress toward your long-term goals, show the value of your suicide prevention efforts, and decide how to expand them.

Step 6. Implement, evaluate, and improve. Implement and evaluate your activities, using your evaluation data to monitor implementation, solve problems, and enhance your prevention efforts.