Suicidal behaviour results from a complex interaction between a wide variety of risk factors, immediate triggers and a lack of protective factors.
There are certain indications that may help us determine whether a person may be at risk of suicide.
Defining risk and protective factors
The reasons that people take their own lives are often very complex. Factors influencing whether someone is likely to be suicidal include:
- Risk factors – sometimes called vulnerability factors, these factors increase the likelihood of suicidal behaviour.
- Protective factors – these reduce the likelihood of suicidal behaviour, and work to improve a person’s ability to cope with difficult circumstances.
Risk and protective factors can occur:
- at an individual or personal level. This includes mental and physical health, self-esteem, and ability to deal with difficult circumstances, manage emotions, or cope with stress
- at a social level. This includes relationships and involvement with others such as family, friends, workmates, the wider community and the person’s sense of belonging
- at a contextual level. This is also known as a person's broader life environment. This includes cultural, environmental, spiritual, religious, political and economic factors that all contribute to available options and quality of life.
For more information on risk and protective factors, you can visit youth suicide risk factors on this website or visit the Youth Beyond Blue website for more information.