Leo Sher, M.D.
My paper, “Resilience as a focus of suicide research and prevention” is published in the current issue of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinvica (1). This paper is the first theoretical work that discusses how resilience enhancement may reduce suicide risk in the general population, in groups at elevated suicide risk, and among high‐risk individuals.
In this paper, I suggest that decades of suicide research have mostly focused on risk factors for suicidal behavior while overlooking protective factors such as resilience that may help to address this important public health issue. Resilience can be defined as the capacity and dynamic process of adaptively overcoming stress and adversity. Studies conducted over the past 10–15 years suggest that resilience is a protective factor against suicide risk. Resilience is becoming a focus of suicide research and prevention.
Mental health professionals should educate the general public regarding issues related to resilience and stress‐coping. Promoting resilience in the general population may reduce suicide rates. Improving resilience may reduce suicide risk among psychiatric patients. Resilience enhancement should be a part of a treatment plan of every psychiatric patient. Mental health professionals will probably have the best success in reducing suicide risk in psychiatric patients if they actively concentrate on increasing stress resilience using both psychosocial and pharmacological interventions.
It is important to note that building resilience is more difficult for some people than for others because some psychobiological factors affecting resilience are not modifiable. For example, both genes and environmental events contribute to resilience and the degree of these contributions is about equal. Also, improving resilience in some cases is difficult because some individuals are very sick and impaired.
- Sher L. Resilience as a focus of suicide research and prevention. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2019 Aug;140(2):169-180. doi: 10.1111/acps.13059. Epub 2019 Jun 20.