Protective or Inhibitory Factors

In assessment, it is also important to look for protective or inhibitory factors as well as warning signs. Protective factors are those that when activated or discussed, may actually inhibit the client from raking action to commit suicide. 

Social Support Factors

  • Significant Others
    • Number
    • Family
    • Close friends
    • Neighbors
    • Coworkers
  • External Social Supports: Professionals with crisis management or therapeutic skills
  • Willingness of clients to use supports
  • Level of Social Acceptance experienced

Protective Factors

  • Problem-solving skills
    • Has history of ability to solve problems and create solutions
    • Has demonstrated skills for handling emotional crises
  • Future Plans: Expression of concrete and detailed future plans
  • Family Commitments
    • Raising children
    • Care for Siblings
  • Religious or Spiritual beliefs
  • Cultural Factors
    • African American
    • Cultural beliefs against suicide
  • Willingness to sign a No-Harm Contract

Of course, there are exceptions to these factors that may make them risk factors. For instance, in some cultures suicide may be endorsed as a means of protest or redemption. In addition, although the commitment to care for and see children grow may be an inhibitory factor, it may become a risk factor if the client perceives the children would be better off without the client.

Counselors also need to be alert to client denial and the lack of complete truthfulness in discussing these factors. Brems (2000) suggests that while protective factors need to be explored carefully, they should also be approached with some skepticism.