Strengthening public health contributions in youth suicide prevention by reconceptualizing notions of resilience in youth mental health
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Faculty of Health and Social Development, School of Nursing, University of British Columbia , Canada
School of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Social Development, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, Canada
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1056
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth in Canada and the world, with rates highest among Black, Indigenous, people of colour and LQBTQIA2+ youth. Evidence shows upstream, community-based factors may be more important for promoting youth mental health. Evidence also shows that not all youth present the same (or any) risk factors. Yet, youth suicide prevention efforts conceptualize resilience at the individual level, as an internally-determined response to hardship or trauma and therefore rely on biomedical, episodic interventions targeting high-risk youth. These factors limit the possibilities of primary prevention, reacting to youth in crisis rather than creating conditions for thriving. The CLARITY (Community-Led Actions for Resiliency Important to Youth) Project began in 2018 as a community-driven response to the tragic loss of young people to suicide. CLARITY uses dialogue-based research, convening people in actively co-designing upstream, inclusive, and universally accessible initiatives. This long-term research partnership intervenes on systems and structures that create barriers to resilience and put youth at risk in the first place. The CLARITY project disrupts three long-standing conceptual norms in youth suicide prevention: (1) the emphasis on episodic, downstream, and largely biomedical suicide prevention interventions; (2) the tendency in research, policy and practice to rely on constructs of resilience as an individual characteristic borne out of surviving hardship; and, (3) the exclusion of youth as experts in their own lives. Reconceptualizing notions of resilience opens possibilities for public health to play an active role in prevention, thereby reducing the reliance on acute-care, biomedical, and individually-focused system that aims to treat, rather than prevent, illness. In this presentation, we will share results from three different CLARITY studies and knowledge mobilizations efforts, inviting participants to look upstream and toward community-building as a meaningful step toward strengthening public health contributions to youth suicide prevention.
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