How to Align Activities with Community Culture and Needs

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As the Data, Planning, and Integration elements describe, suicide prevention efforts must be comprehensive and evidence-informed, and they must address existing risk and protective factors. To be successful, efforts also must align with community perspectives, culture, readiness, strengths, and needs. Cultural alignment, also called “fit,” is as important to the success of a suicide prevention effort as the use of evidence-informed approaches.

To make sure that suicide prevention efforts fit the cultures of community groups at higher risk, members of the relevant groups, including community leaders, should be involved from the beginning. Work with people who both carry out and participate in suicide prevention programs to tailor efforts and ensure they are relevant to the local context and culture—its environment, structures, and specific situation. Consider the needs of groups that have been identified as at risk or underserved, including culturally and linguistically diverse populations, while also considering the evidence for what works in suicide prevention. Visit the CDC’s Suicide Prevention Resource for Action for approaches with the best available evidence (evidence-informed approaches) and selected policies, programs, and practices. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s Best Practices Registry also contains evidence-informed programs and practices.

There are three key areas for achieving the Fit element:

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A rural North Carolina community recognized the need to address suicide risk in LGBTQ+ youth on the local level. In response, community health advocates formed a You Belong Here campaign, which interviewed dozens of LGBTQ+ youth to gather their perspectives on LGBTQ+ acceptance and suicide. The interviews were incorporated into a locally developed and debuted documentary that explored how LGBTQ+ youth are perceived and what steps can be taken to reduce suicide risk factors in their community.

– Anne Geissinger, MPH, RDN, Comprehensive Suicide Prevention (CSP) Program Coordinator & Team Lead, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services