This glossary was abridged and adapted from one published in the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 2001.
Best practices – activities or programs that are in keeping with the best available evidence regarding what is effective.
Bipolar disorder – a mood disorder characterized by the presence or history of manic episodes, usually, but not necessarily, alternating with depressive episodes.
Comorbidity – the co-occurrence of two or more disorders, such as depressive disorder with substance abuse disorder.
Consumer – a person using or having used a health service.
Contagion – a phenomenon whereby susceptible persons are influenced towards suicidal behavior through knowledge of another person's suicidal acts.
Culturally appropriate – the ability of an organization or program to be effective across cultures, including the ability to honor and respect the beliefs, language, interpersonal styles, and behaviors of individuals and families receiving services.
Depression – a constellation of emotional, cognitive and somatic signs and symptoms, including sustained sad mood or lack of pleasure.
Epidemiology – the study of statistics and trends in health and disease across communities.
Evidence-based – programs that have undergone scientific evaluation and have proven to be effective.
Helping Professionals (suicide gatekeepers) – individuals trained to identify persons at risk of suicide and refer them to treatment or supporting services as appropriate.
Intervention – a strategy or approach that is intended to prevent an outcome or to alter the course of an existing condition (such as strengthening social support in a community).
Means – the instrument or object whereby a self-destructive act is carried out (e.g., firearm, poison, medication).
Methods – actions or techniques which result in an individual inflicting self-harm (e.g., asphyxiation, overdose, jumping).
Mood disorders – mental disorders that are characterized by a prominent or persistent mood disturbance; disturbances can be in the direction of elevated expansive emotional states, or, if in the opposite direction, depressed emotional states. Included are depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, mood disorders due to a medical condition, and substance-induced mood disorders.
Personality disorders – a class of mental disorders characterized by deeply ingrained, often inflexible, maladaptive patterns of relating, perceiving, and thinking of sufficient severity to cause either impairment in functioning or distress.
Postvention – a strategy or approach that is implemented after a crisis or traumatic event has occurred.
Prevention – a strategy or approach that reduces the likelihood of risk of onset, or delays the onset of adverse health problems or reduces the harm resulting from conditions or behaviors.
Protective factors – factors that make it less likely that individuals will develop a disorder; protective factors may encompass biological, psychological or social factors in the individual, family and environment.
Public health approach – the systematic approach using five basic evidence-based steps, which are applicable to any health problem that threatens substantial portions of a group or population. The five steps include defining the problem, identifying causes, developing and testing interventions, implementing interventions and evaluating interventions.
Resilience – capacities within a person that promote positive outcomes, such as mental health and well-being, and provide protection from factors that might otherwise place that person at risk for adverse health outcomes.
Risk factors – factors that make it more likely that individuals will develop a disorder; risk factors may encompass biological, psychological or social factors in the individual, family and environment.
Screening – administration of an assessment tool to identify persons in need of more in-depth evaluation or treatment.
Stakeholders – entities, including organizations, groups and individuals, that are affected by and contribute to decisions, consultations and policies.
Suicidal act (also referred to as suicide attempt) – potentially self-injurious behavior for which there is evidence that the person probably intended to kill himself or herself; a suicidal act may result in death, injuries, or no injuries.
Suicidal behavior (consider where to put “at risk” definition later)– a spectrum of activities related to thoughts and behaviors that include suicidal thinking, suicide attempts, and completed suicide.
Suicidal ideation – thoughts of engaging in suicide-related behavior.
Suicidality – a term that encompasses suicidal thoughts, ideation, plans, suicide attempts, and completed suicide.
Suicide – death from injury, poisoning, or suffocation where there is evidence that a self-inflicted act led to the person's death.
Suicide attempt – a potentially self-injurious behavior with a nonfatal outcome, for which there is evidence that the person intended to kill himself or herself; a suicide attempt may or may not result in injuries.
Suicide attempt survivors – individuals who have survived a prior suicide attempt.
Suicide survivors – family members, significant others, or acquaintances who have experienced the loss of a loved one due to suicide; sometimes this term is also used to mean suicide attempt survivors.
If you or someone you care about is thinking about suicide, please call us. We are here for you 24 hours daily, 7 days weekly at these numbers:
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
• Local Saginaw Crisis (989) 792-9732 (Michigan)
• Local Toll Free 1-800-233-0022
• TDD/TTY Line (989) 797-3460
• For veterans in an emotional crisis please call 1-800-273-TALK and press #1 for special VA assistance.