The purpose of this study was to investigate what suicide prevention means in terms of practical interventions. Another purpose was to assess the feasibility of a previously developed theoretical model for analysing suicide prevention (1-3).
The data consisted of plans for action provided by professionals from five fields (n = 173) (psychologists [n = 41], clergy [n=37], nurses [n=34], social workers [n=32], and physicians [n=29]) as responses to an inquiry within the National Suicide Prevention Project in Finland. The plans were operationally described and theoretically interpreted using the model.
The analysis indicated that practice patterns were more or less similar irrespective of the focus of suicide prevention. Neither did clear sectoral or professional profiles of practice appear. Clinical topics, individually focused interventions and curative strategies constituted the main approach. Interventions focused mainly on risk factors, the priorities being life crises, acute risk of suicide, coping of survivors, and a suicide attempt. The bulk of the strategies were aimed at developing professional interventions and skills.
The model proved to be a feasible tool for differentiating and theoretically interpreting suicide-prevention approaches. The paradigm adopted by the sectors was versatile and comprehensive: the activities were multifocused, all aims of prevention and locations of intervention were included, and a common set of interventions--a "multimethod approach"--was applied. The adoption of the idea of risk as well as of protective factors can be interpreted as reflecting a process theory of suicide development.