First Published July 29, 2020 Research Article
The concept of social justice has assumed major significance in the human service professions, as suicide rates have increased. However, social justice remains a difficult concept to define. This article explores definitions of social justice, as well as the intersection of social justice and suicide prevention. A review of suicide prevention programs is presented, including both systemic prevention programs and individual prevention strategies. This evolves into a discussion concerning why suicide prevention is in fact a very significant social justice issue. Finally, implications for mental health professionals, including counseling psychologists, the profession that originated this journal, are examined, and suggestions for future issues of focus related to the intersection of suicide prevention and social justice are presented. To take a social justice approach to suicide prevention, it is suggested that an interdisciplinary structure be utilized to maximize political action.
Innovative Strategies for Prevention
Additional and more creative and user-friendly methods of suicide prevention need to be developed. There is some of this beginning to happen. For example, the military is experimenting with sending texts to personnel to reduce suicidal thoughts and attempts (Comtois et al., 2019). In addition, Tufts University is making a strong commitment to mental health treatment and prevention, including examining ways that suicide can be prevented (Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2019). One of the most exciting developments is the potential development of a three-digit hotline phone app. This is being considered currently and is subsumed under the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018. Comments are now being accepted on this proposal. This act would establish a three-digit national call code phone number—similar to 911—targeting suicide prevention and response to mental health crisis (Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2020). Social justice elements of such an app need to be included in the development of these products.