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Population Considerations for Suicide Prevention Programs

When starting a suicide prevention program, it is important to consider the population the program intends to reach and the population that will be impacted. For example, it is important to consider whether the rural suicide prevention program will target an entire community or a specific population that is disproportionally impacted, such as veterans, people who identify as LGBTQ+, farmers, older adults, Native Americans, or youth. Involving community members who are part of these groups will help make sure the program is appropriately addressing their concerns and is suitable for the community.

When designing a new program, one of the first steps should be to identify who the relevant stakeholders are and ensure that they have a seat at the table. Stakeholders can be instrumental in helping to design the program to be relevant to its intended audience.

Programs — including the content of the program and the messaging around it — should be designed with input from identified stakeholders and with the audience in mind. Messages should be attention grabbing for the intended audience and the media used (such as websites, written materials, or videos) should be relevant and easily accessible.

If a new suicide prevention program is being modeled after an existing program that has been successful, it is important to consider the potential differences in target audiences. A program that is effective for one group of people (for example, an urban population) may not be for another group (for example, a rural community). This is another reason why it is essential for representatives from the target population to be involved in each step of implementation.

Resources to Learn More

Public Health Action for the Prevention of Suicide: A Framework
Discusses the importance of developing a national suicide prevention strategy, and identifies key elements for the development and implementation of a suicide prevention program.
Organization(s): World Health Organization
Date: 2012

What Works? Strategies to Improve Rural Health
Provides helpful tools, specific policies, and proven strategies for building and developing healthier rural communities.
Organizations: County Health Rankings, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute