The juxtaposition of increasing suicide rates with continued calls for suicide prevention efforts begs for new approaches. Grounded in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) framework for tackling health issues, this personal views work integrates relevant suicide risk/protective factor, assessment, and intervention/prevention literatures. Based on these components of suicide risk, we articulate a Social-Ecological Suicide Prevention Model (SESPM) which provides an integration of general and population-specific risk and protective factors. We also use this multi-level perspective to provide a structured approach to understanding current theories and intervention/prevention efforts concerning suicide. Following similar multi-level prevention efforts in interpersonal violence and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) domains, we offer recommendations for social-ecologically informed suicide prevention theory, training, research, assessment, and intervention programming. Although the SESPM calls for further empirical testing, it provides a suitable backdrop for tailoring of current prevention and intervention programs to population-specific needs. Moreover, the multi-level model shows promise to move suicide risk assessment forward (e.g., development of multi-level suicide risk algorithms or structured professional judgments instruments) to overcome current limitations in the field. Finally, we articulate a set of characteristics of social-ecologically based suicide prevention programs. These include the need to address risk and protective factors with the strongest degree of empirical support at each multi-level layer, incorporate a comprehensive program evaluation strategy, and use a variety of prevention techniques across levels of prevention.
Keywords: prevention; risk assessment; social-ecological model; suicide.