Family and Community Intervention in Suicide Prevention and Management

  • Neha SharmaEmail author
  • John Sargent


Suicide is a challenge for every community since it is a social problem and not just a mental health issue. Thus, successful suicide prevention and intervention programs must involve the family and community, specifically when concerned with youth of various races, ethnicities, sexual orientation, and non-binary genders. These programs need to be attuned to the community’s financial and social needs, expressions of distress, unique risk factors for suicide, and preference of language. Such knowledge about the community allows programs to anticipate barriers in prevention and intervention models and to develop plans to overcome those barriers. This chapter reviews suicide prevention programs that used education to pediatricians, families, and communities to destigmatize mental health disorders while encouraging the use of appropriate resources and community protective factors. Additionally, the authors discuss interventions that target cultural and social factors of acute instances of suicide. Interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, attachment-based family therapy, and strategic structural-systems engagement were noted to be particularly effective for high-risk individuals. To further increase the effectiveness of these interventions, programs need political and financial support to allow adequate capacity in order to engage as many individuals as possible. More research focused on suicide prevention and interventions specific to minority youths is necessary for highlighting areas that are yet to be addressed.


Prevention Intervention Community-based treatment Family treatment Minority youth 



The authors would like to thank Grace Yoon for being dedicated to underserved youth who experience healthcare disparities. She contributed her valuable time and energy by researching different topics for the chapters and helping us materialize drafts into final version. This project would not have been successful without her support.


  1. 1.
    Goldston DB, Molock SD, Whitbeck LB, Murakami JL, Zayas LH, Hall GC. Cultural considerations in adolescent suicide prevention and psychosocial treatment. Am Psychol. 2008;63(1):14.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Satcher D. Mental health: culture, race, and ethnicity: a supplement to mental health: a report of the surgeon general. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). 2001.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Shaffer D, Pfeffer CR. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with suicidal behavior. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2001;40(7):24S–51S.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bernal G, Scharró-del-Río MR. Are empirically supported treatments valid for ethnic minorities? Toward an alternative approach for treatment research. Cult Divers Ethn Minor Psychol. 2001;7(4):328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. Golden gate bridge: physical suicide deterrent project [Internet]. Web. 2009. Available from:
  6. 6.
    The Trevor Project. The trevor project: saving young lives [Internet]. 2017. Available from:
  7. 7.
    Office of Suicide Prevention. California suicide prevention hotline survey report [Internet]. California Department of Mental Health. 2011. Available from:
  8. 8.
    Asian American Federation. Asian American suicide prevention & education. 2009. Available from:
  9. 9.
    Wolk CB, Kendall PC, Beidas RS. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for child anxiety confers long-term protection from suicidality. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015;54(3):175–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mehlum L, Ramberg M, Tørmoen AJ, Haga E, Diep LM, Stanley BH, Miller AL, Sund AM, Grøholt B. Dialectical behavior therapy compared with enhanced usual care for adolescents with repeated suicidal and self-harming behavior: outcomes over a one-year follow-up. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2016;55(4):295–300.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Stanley B, Brown G, Brent DA, Wells K, Poling K, Curry J, Kennard BD, Wagner A, Cwik MF, Klomek AB, Goldstein T. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for suicide prevention (CBT-SP): treatment model, feasibility, and acceptability. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2009;48(10):1005–13.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Diamond G, Russon J, Levy S. Attachment-based family therapy: a review of the empirical support. Fam Process. 2016;55(3):595–610.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ewing ES, Diamond G, Levy S. Attachment-based family therapy for depressed and suicidal adolescents: theory, clinical model and empirical support. Attach Hum Dev. 2015;17(2):136–56.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Santisteban DA, Szapocznik J, Perez-Vidal A, Kurtines WM, Murray EJ, LaPerriere A. Efficacy of intervention for engaging youth and families into treatment and some variables that may contribute to differential effectiveness. J Fam Psychol. 1996;10(1):35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Pantin H, Coatsworth JD, Feaster DJ, Newman FL, Briones E, Prado G, Schwartz SJ, Szapocznik J. Familias Unidas: the efficacy of an intervention to promote parental investment in Hispanic immigrant families. Prev Sci. 2003;4(3):189–201.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Haggarty J, Craven J, Chaudhuri B, Cernovsky Z, Kermeen P. A study of multi-media suicide education in Nunavut. Arch Suicide Res. 2006;10(3):277–81.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Van Cleave J, Le TT, Perrin JM. Point-of-care child psychiatry expertise: the Massachusetts child psychiatry access project. Pediatrics. 2015;135(5):834–41.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pumariega AJ, Roberts M, Naydock G, Hanbury R, Solkhah R, Kairys S. Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative: New Jersey Model Program and Cases. NJ Pediatrics. Fall, 2016; pp. 6–11. Available from: Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hwang WC, Wood JJ, Fujimoto K. Acculturative family distancing (AFD) and depression in Chinese American families. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2010;78(5):655.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ellis BH, Miller AB, Baldwin H, Abdi S. New directions in refugee youth mental health services: overcoming barriers to engagement. J Child Adolesc Trauma. 2011;4(1):69–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Cao LH, Han M, Lee MS, Nguyen T. Outreach strategies for mental health promotion: The role of ethnic media among Vietnamese communities in the U.S. Public Health Without Borders: APHA 136th Annual Meeting and Expo. 2008.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ford-Paz RE, Reinhard C, Kuebbeler A, Contreras R, Sánchez B. Culturally tailored depression/suicide prevention in Latino youth: community perspectives. J Behav Health Serv Res. 2015;42(4):519–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    May PA, Serna P, Hurt L, DeBruyn LM. Outcome evaluation of a public health approach to suicide prevention in an American Indian tribal nation. Am J Public Health. 2005;95(7):1238–44.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Out of the darkness walks [Internet]. 2017. Available from:
  25. 25.
    Blank MB, Mahmood M, Fox JC, Guterbock T. Alternative mental health services: the role of the black church in the south. Am J Public Health. 2002;92(10):1668–72.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Molock SD, Puri R, Matlin S, Barksdale C. Relationship between religious coping and suicidal behaviors among African American adolescents. J Black Psychol. 2006;32(3):366–89.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Capp K, Deane FP, Lambert G. Suicide prevention in aboriginal communities: application of community gatekeeper training. Aust N ZJ Publ Health. 2001;25(4):315–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Molock SD, Matlin S, Barksdale C, Puri R, Lyles J. Developing suicide prevention programs for African American youth in African American churches. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2008;38(3):323–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Allen J, Mohatt G, Fok CC, Henry D, People Awakening Team. Suicide prevention as a community development process: understanding circumpolar youth suicide prevention through community level outcomes. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2009;68(3):274–91.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    LaFromboise T, Howard-Pitney B. The Zuni life skills development curriculum: description and evaluation of a suicide prevention program. J Couns Psychol. 1995;42(4):479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Cheng AT, Hawton K, Chen TH, Yen AM, Chen CY, Chen LC, Teng PR. The influence of media coverage of a celebrity suicide on subsequent suicide attempts. J Clin Psychiatry. 2007;68(6):862–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2011. MMWR, Surveillance Summaries 2012;61(no. SS-4). US Department of Health and Human Services. 2012. Web. Available from
  33. 33.
    Rosin H. The silicon valley suicides [Internet]. The Atlantic: Education. Atlantic Media Company. 2015 Dec; Available from:


  1. American Indian Life Skills Development Curriculum.Google Scholar
  2. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.Google Scholar
  3. Trevor Project.Google Scholar
  4. Familias Unidas.Google Scholar
  5. Massachusetts Child and Adolescent Provider Access Program.Google Scholar
  6. Asian American Suicide Prevention and Education.Google Scholar
  7. Tam An Project.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryTufts University School of Medicine, Tufts Medical CenterBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations