This toolkit has been developed by the World Health Organization with the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Suicide prevention: the role of communities
Communities play a crucial role in suicide prevention. This toolkit follows on from the World Health Organization (WHO) report Preventing suicide: a global imperative (WHO, 2014) by providing practical steps for engaging communities in suicide prevention activities.
Community engagement is an active and participatory bottom-up process by which communities can influence and shape policy and services (McLeroy et al., 2003). Communities can accomplish this by initiating activities that are important and appropriate to their local context. However, although increasingly gaining recognition as innovative approaches to both public health and mental health, community engagement techniques often lack clear evidence and guidelines for their successful execution and design (Mendel et al., 2011). When implemented adequately, community engagement projects can be very effective in tackling mental health challenges in general and preventing suicide in particular. Such approaches are often relatively cost-effective and are therefore particularly appealing to low- and middle-income countries where stigma and taboo often limit access to quality care for suicidal behaviours. When dealing with sensitive issues such as suicide prevention, it may be difficult to know where or how to initiate action. This toolkit therefore provides some practical suggestions that can be used by communities worldwide, regardless of the resources at their disposal or their current state of progress in suicide prevention efforts.