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Evaluation Measures for Suicide Prevention Programs

A key consideration when evaluating a rural suicide prevention program is deciding what will be measured. Programs may choose to evaluate both process and outcome measures.

Process measures evaluate the implementation of a program. They include data such as the number of program participants, units of service delivered, service access and retention, or participant satisfaction with the program. These measures can help rural suicide prevention programs assess program reach, the extent it is being implemented as intended, how participants use different aspects of the program, and how they feel about the services received.

Outcome measures evaluate whether intended changes occur because of a program. Suicide prevention program outcome measures are typically a decrease in the number of suicides and suicide attempts. Many rural suicide prevention programs use alternative outcome measures, including:

  • Improved identification of and decreases in risk factors for suicide
  • Reduced access to lethal means
  • Improved access to and retention in mental healthcare
  • Increase in participants reporting strong social support

There are many possible process and outcome measures that could be used to evaluate a suicide prevention program. Programs should use measures that are most applicable to their program, align with the program goals, and can practically be collected and measured.

Resources to Learn More

Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices
Offers a collection of evidence-based strategies to help states and communities focus on suicide prevention activities. Includes sections on strengthening access and delivery of suicide care, developing protective environments, identifying vulnerable populations, lessening the harm and risk to prevent suicide, and the importance of good monitoring and evaluation.
Author(s): Stone, D., Holland, K., Bartholow, B., et al.
Organization(s): National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 2017