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You’ve got an important job to do, so don’t let jargon get in the way. Here is a list of terms that you may come across.

To access the full reference for any of the terms, please click here.


Best practices

The provision of care utilizing evidence-based decision-making and continuous quality improvement regarding what is effective (Alberta Mental Health Board, 2005).

Emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a reduced feeling of personal accomplishment that develops as a result of prolonged stress or frustration typically associated with the workplace. Burnout occurs over a fairly long period of time and is cumulative, not the result of one bad day. (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Secondary Traumatic Stress Committee, 2011; Best Start Resource Centre, 2012)  

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How a community can build on its own existing strengths and abilities rather than being overwhelmed by problems or feelings of powerlessness (Austen, 2003).
Cis-normativity is the assumption, sometimes unintentional, that everyone is cisgender (i.e. that everyone’s biological sex at birth corresponds with their gender identity and expression). As one example, separating boys and girls in gym class is a common cisnormative practice in schools.
A group of people who share a concern, geographic area or population characteristics (Kim-Ju et al., 2008). Together to Live focuses on communities who share a concern for youth suicide.
Community capacity
The assets already existing within a community, including concrete resources needed to address particular issues and the wisdom, expertise and leadership to make things happen (Austen, 2003).
Community mobilization
Individuals taking action around specific community issues (Kim-Ju et al., 2008).
Compassion fatigue
A term used to describe secondary traumatic stress, which refers to the presence of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms caused by at least one indirect exposure to traumatic material. Symptoms can include exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, isolated and disconnected. (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Secondary Traumatic Stress Committee, 2011; Best Start Resource Centre, 2012)
A phenomenon whereby susceptible individuals are influenced towards suicidal behaviour through the knowledge of another person’s suicidal behaviour (US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 2001).
The use of communication technology to facilitate deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour towards an individual (Paglia-Boak, Adlaf & Mann, 2013).

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Death by suicide
A purposeful self-inflicted act that is fatal and is associated with implicit or explicit intent to die (Chehil & Kutcher, 2012).
Developmental evaluation
An approach to evaluation inquiry for complex environments which focuses on collecting information as a project is unfolding. The information gathered is intended to be used to guide and inform the developing project (Gamble, 2008; Patton, 2011).

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To flourish is to be able to enjoy life, cope with life’s difficulties, believe in yourself and others, feel you belong somewhere in the world and believe that you have something you can give to others. (Source:
Acronym that stands for First Nations, Inuit and Metis.

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A community member who’s strategically positioned to recognize and refer someone at risk of suicide (e.g. neighbours, teachers, coaches, caseworkers, police officers; White, 2013).

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Hetero-normativity is the assumption, sometimes unintentional, that everyone is heterosexual. As one example, the underrepresentation of gay and lesbian couples in the media is a widespread heteronormative practice.

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Performing targeted evidence-informed interventions (including community interventions) to foster behaviour change.
Inconclusive evidence
When there is not enough research to justify drawing conclusions or the research points to mixed conclusions (Chehil & Kutcher, 2012).

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Acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (and/or questioning).
Life promotion
Life promotion is a holistic and strength-based approach to suicide prevention. It is based on the belief that preventing youth suicide involves helping young people find their own path to a healthy and meaningful life.
Likely beneficial
Implies that there is some evidence for a program’s effectiveness, however no research has comprehensively looked at the evidence (e.g. when there is no systematic review or meta-analysis of the literature).
Logic model
A visual representation of a program or initiative’s inputs (necessary resources), activities (actions, events), outputs (products), and resulting short-, mid-, and long-term outcomes.

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Non-suicidal self-injury
A deliberate attempt to cause injury to one’s body without the conscious intent to die (School Mental Health Assist, n.d.).

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Outcome (summative) evaluations
A type of evaluation that focuses on the overall success of a program to determine whether a program should be continued (Wholey, Hatry, & Newcomer, 2010).

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Papageno effect
the protective effect that responsible media can have on individuals (e.g. increased awareness about the signs of suicide among those exposed to the media reporting).
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Emotional duress that results when an individual is exposed to one or more traumatic events (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Secondary Traumatic Stress Committee, 2011).
An intervention strategy aimed at attending to the needs of those who require assistance after a suicide.
Postvention program
Postvention programs aid those in the grieving process in addition to reducing the incidence of suicide contagion through bereavement counseling and education (Szumilas & Kutcher, 2010).
Systematic efforts to reduce the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviours, and ultimately death by suicide (School Mental Health Assist, n.d.).
Primary prevention
Similar to universal prevention where population-based strategies are used to prevent a problem from occurring altogether (Heller, Wyman & Allen, 2000).
Process (formative) evaluation
A type of evaluation that focuses on the improvement and development of an ongoing program (Wholey, Hatry, & Newcomer, 2010).
Program evaluation
The application of systematic methods to address questions about program operations and results, including ongoing monitoring of a program, one time studies of program processes or program impact (Wholey, Hatry, & Newcomer, 2010). The approaches used are based on social science research methodologies and professional standards (Wholey, Hatry, & Newcomer, 2010).
Protective factors
Factors and experiences believed to promote resilience and better mental well-being that may buffer against the negative effects of risk factors and stressors (Kutcher & Chehil, 2007). Examples of protective factors for youth suicide are coping skills and social support.

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Risk assessment
Procedure that aims to weigh out risk and protective factors to determine the level of suicide risk for an individual or a community.
Risk factors
Factors or experiences associated with an increased probability of a particular event occurring. Examples of major risk factors for youth suicide include a previous attempt, a psychiatric diagnosis (e.g. mood disorders, substance abuse) and access to lethal means (Gutierrez et al., 2008; Doan et al., 2012).
Risk management
Practices involved in recognizing and responding to a person with suicidal ideation or behavior.

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Secondary prevention
A prevention strategy that aims to reduce the chances of a potential problem happening, at the earliest possible moment. It usually targets at-risk groups that have yet to show definite symptoms of the problem (e.g. reducing modifiable risk factors of youth suicide; Heller et al., 2000).
A very broad range of self-inflicted behaviours causing tissue damage or injury, which may or may not be associated with an intent to die. Also includes behaviours that don’t involve tissue damage or that result in a degree of injury that is vague or unclear (Klonsky, 2011).
Stigma can be broken down into three components: (1) people or groups of people are marked (e.g., people marked mental illness), (2) negative labels are associated with people who are marked, and (3) people who recognize the mark buy into the label.
Strategic action planning
An approach that can help you understand the issue of suicide in your community, set realistic goals, identify activities that will help you reach your goals, and implement evaluate and improve these activities over time.
Suicidal ideation
Thoughts, images, or fantasies of harming or killing oneself (Chehil & Kutcher, 2012).
Suicidality/Suicide behaviours
Any purposeful self-inflicted acts, including suicide attempts, self-harm and self-injury, that may lead to death regardless of the intent of those behaviours and actions (Chehil & Kutcher, 2012).
Intentional, self-inflicted death (White, 2013).
Suicide attempt
A purposeful self-inflicted act with implicit or explicit intent to die, which does not result in death (Chehil & Kutcher, 2012).
Suicide intent
The conscious decision to take one’s life (Chehil & Kutcher, 2012).
Systems map
A visual tool that will map out your project.

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Targeted prevention
Efforts that target a group we know for whatever reason is at higher risk (e.g., targeting those with a previous attempt, those with mental illness for early identification and intervention; School Mental Health ASSIST, n.d; Chehil & Kutcher, 2012).
Tertiary prevention
A prevention strategy that resembles a treatment strategy, where the goal is to reduce any further negative effects of an established problem (e.g. relapse prevention; Heller et al., 2000).

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Universal programs
Prevention efforts that target everyone regardless of their level of risk (e.g. whole school approaches; School Mental Health ASSIST, n.d; Chehil & Kutcher, 2012).

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Vicarious trauma
A permanent cognitive change in the service provider that typically develops over time as a result of empathic engagement with another person’s trauma that can lead to pervasive disturbances in all areas of the professional’s life (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Secondary Traumatic Stress Committee, 2011; Best Start Resource Centre, 2012).

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Wherther effect
negative effects that irresponsible media reporting can have on individuals (i.e. a spike in deaths by suicide after a widely publicized suicide)

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