Goal 1: Build Protective Factors

Implement strategies that reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and promote social-emotional development in children.

In Wisconsin, personal and relationship challenges including recent crises, physical health problems, job problems, and intimate partner problems are circumstances that frequently contribute to suicide. Greater emotional intelligence — the ability to regulate emotions and solve interpersonal  problems — may help people experiencing such difficulties cope more effectively, thereby reducing their likelihood of turning to suicide or high-risk behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use. Research suggests that the provision of stimulating, nurturing environments during childhood may support the development of emotional intelligence, while neglectful or harmful environments impede the acquisition of emotional skills.

(See Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Strategy, Page 10)

Facts & Stats
  • In 2010, approximately 58% of Wisconsin residents reported having experienced at least one ACE.
  • Of Wisconsin residents who reported at least one ACE, 25% reported having experienced four or more.
  • Wisconsin residents who reported four or more ACEs were four times more likely to have been diagnosed with depression than those with no ACEs.
  • According to the original ACE study conducted in California from 1995-1997, 18% of people with four or more ACEs had attempted suicide compared to only 1% of people with no ACEs.

Trauma Informed Care - Resources:

Adverse Childhood Experiences in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Children's Trust Fund

Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction, school-friendly resources addressing positive mindset and behavior:
Office of Children’s Mental Health

The Office of Children's Mental Health has a Collective Impact initiative on ACEs and TIC.  They offer free trainings every other month on these topics.  They also have a dashboard identifying 48 metrics on children's mental health: https://children.wi.gov/Pages/Home.aspx

Fostering Futures

Fostering Futures has a community of practice with 21 local and state agencies.  They are working on toolkits that use neutral language (having found that the clinical language of TIC can lead to some other sectors feeling this isn't for them): www.fosteringfutureswisconsin.org/

Trauma-Informed Care: Perspectives and Resources

This web-based resource, developed by JBS International and the Georgetown University National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health, aims to help professionals become more familiar with trauma-informed care in order to support their work with children and youth. The tool includes issue briefs, video interviews, and resource lists.

Social Emotional Development - Resources:

Linking Pyramid Model and Positive Behavior Intervention

Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health

Office of Children's Mental Health 2015 Report to the Wisconsin Legislature

The Wisconsin School Mental Health Framework: Integrating School Mental Health with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Increase social connections.

Many people in Wisconsin experience low levels of social connectedness. According to data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System included in the 2014 County Health Rankings, 17% of Wisconsin adults report inadequate social support.

Healthy communities provide infrastructure for social interaction at multiple levels. Strategies for increasing social connections function to bring individuals and families together and promote concepts of shared responsibility within communities. Research demonstrates relationships between loneliness and risk factors for suicide. A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that men who have more social connections, such as through marriage and religious participation, tend to have a lower risk of suicide. Study participants who had the most connections had less than half the risk of suicide over 24 years as those with the fewest social ties. Connectedness to others, including family members, teachers, and coworkers, as well as community, faith-based, and social organizations, plays an important role in protecting individuals from suicide.

(See Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Strategy, Page 12)

Getting Connected

Creating Connections- Learn how connections help with increased happiness, better health and a longer life.

Social Support: Getting and Staying ConnectedResearch has shown that social support wards off the effects of stress on depression, anxiety and other health problems.  If you think you need to be more connected to others, here are some tips to help you create a plan to make, keep and strengthen connections in your life. 

Suicide loss survivor support groups in Wisconsingrief support groups for all family members and friends after the loss of a loved one to suicide. Connect with other loss survivors in your community. (Download Excel file)

NAMI Peer-to-Peer Program – is a free, 10-session educational program for adults with mental illness who are looking to better understand their condition and journey toward recovery.

NAMI Connection Support Groupsis a free, peer-led support group for adults living with mental illness.  Gain insight from hearing the challenges and successes of others.

Recovery Peer Run Organizations in Wisconsinnon-medical crisis alternative where you can feel safe, receive support in a homelike environment and people understand and believe in you because they’ve been where you are.


QPRBecome a QPR trained Gatekeeper and learn the warning signs of suicide, know how to offer hope and how to get help and save a live. 

Emotional CPR is a public health education program designed to teach people to assist others through an emotional crisis by Connecting, empowering and Revitalizing.

Honest, Open, Proud (HOP) is a 6-hour experience, participants explore the story they have been telling themselves and practice skills to reverse hurtful self-talk. 

Mental Health First Aid/Youth MH First Aid- is an 8-hour course that teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.


Handbook for Survivors of Suicide– grief resources and information from survivors of suicide who have compiled thoughts and ideas that were helpful for them after their own loss. 

Promote Social Networks and Connectedness-Adults –a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention: strategies, programs and practices to consider.

Promoting Connectedness to Prevent Suicidea webinar presentation exploring the how and why Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made connectedness a central focus and describe programs that are currently promoting connectedness within specific populations.

Promoting Individual, Family and Community Connectedness to Prevent Suicidal Behavior- a strategic direction for the prevention of suicidal behavior through community connectedness for individuals and families.

Taking Good Care of Yourselfidentifying tools and developing plans will help you be more prepared and empowered to take action when it comes to your recovery. 

It’s My Life: Social Self-Directed Carean innovative intervention that combines Peer Support with other best practices including self-directed care into an integrated skill and support strategy to help people build networks of friends and intimate relationships.

Area Agencies on Aging, Resources for the Elderly – access resources in Wisconsin for individuals aged 60 and over.

Assist communities, families, and individuals in creating suicide safe environments for people at risk of suicide. 

Though a person may experience repeated occurrences of suicidal thoughts, the acute intention to end their life — a suicidal crisis — is temporary. Therefore, a key strategy for suicide prevention is creating suicide-safe environments, which lessen an at-risk person’s ability to attempt suicide. Increasing the time or effort required to act upon suicidal intent can create a window of opportunity for the suicidal crisis to pass or for a friend, family member, or other person to intervene. Suicide-safe environments also reduce the likelihood that a person who does attempt suicide will die. Most people who survive a suicide attempt do not go on to die by suicide. Ensuring that suicide attempt survivors receive appropriate professional care and other support services is critical to promoting recovery.

(See Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Strategy, Page 14)

NEW! MHA Press Release: Imagine a Las Vegas Gun Death Toll Every Day: It’s Happening

Creating Suicide Safe Inpatient Units

A new study shows a sharp decline in suicides at Veterans Affairs inpatient mental health units from 2000 to 2015, thanks to the Mental Health Environment of Care Checklist.

Simple Checklist Leads to 82% Drop in Mental Health Patient Suicides

To find a copy of the checklist go to: www.patientsafety.va.gov/professionals/onthejob/mentalhealth.asp.  

Obtaining Gunlocks and Medication Disposal

Project Child Safe A nonprofit organization committed to promoting firearms safety among firearms owners through the distribution of safety educate messages and free firearm safety kits. The free firearm safety kits include cable gun locks but these are only available through law enforcement partners.

Organizations can also purchase gunlocks directly from the following source:

Patrick Farchione
REGAL INDUSTRIAL SALES, INC., PO Box 355, 687 Rowley Road, Victor, NY  14564
Cell: (585) 749.6543
Phn: (585)398.1290
Fax:  (585)398.1291
Email: pat@regalisi.com
Web:  www.regalisi.com

The “15 second brochure” is a factual and clever way to promote the value of using gun locks. Contact MHA if you are interested in purchasing copies of this brochure.

Prescription Drugs: You can learn about the Department of Justice’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day at https://www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/prescription-drug-take-back-day.  There is contact information on this page for the DOJ staff person with whom you can talk about medication disposal options. The DOJ efforts apply to households only. For information about proper drug disposal for businesses go to: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/healthwaste/businesspharm.html

Safety Planning

Safety planning is a tool to engage individuals who may be suicidal in identifying the things they can do to recognize their own warning signs and establish a plan to keep themselves safe. Safety planning includes a discussion about means restriction. Templates for evidence-based safety plans can be found in the Zero Suicide toolkit: http://zerosuicide.sprc.org/toolkit/engage.  Look under the “Tools” section.

General Resources

Means Matter  Most efforts to prevent suicide focus on why people take their lives. But as we understand more about who attempts suicide and when and where and why, it becomes increasingly clear that how a person attempts–the means they use–plays a key role in whether they live or die. “Means reduction” is an important part of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. Harvard School of Public Health

New Hampshire Gun Shop Project: Collaborating with gun shop and shooting range owners can save lives. These businesses have demonstrated an interest in keeping their customers safe. Learn about the work of the New Hampshire Firearms Safety Coalition.

CALM: Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (SPRC)Free, 2 hour, online training. It is designed especially for providers who counsel people at risk for suicide, primarily mental health and medical providers, but also clergy and social service providers.

Emergency Dept. Means Restriction Education, Evidence-Based Program

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

How to Incorporate Means Restriction into Your Community Suicide Prevention Efforts(PPT) by Debbie Rueber, Kenosha County Division of Health and Amy Schlotthauer, Injury Research Center of the Medical College of Wisconsin, 2011

For Educators:

From the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:

National Center for Campus Safety