The concept of resilience developed as a process for investigating the impact of stress and has since fostered research in education, and in clinical applications in such areas as posttraumatic stress disorder and suicide. Given is broad use, the definition of resilience varies. Resilience can be defined as the development of skills needed to manage stress in an optimal way, or an ability, perception or set of beliefs which buffer individuals from the development of suicidality in the face of risk factors or stressors.1,2 Emerging resilience models favor social connectives, or support, as protective for reducing suicide risk.3,4,5,6

The World Health Organization (WHO) looks at resilience at individual and community levels by recognizing the role of protective factors relative to suicide risk factors. These protective factors include development and sustainment of social support systems, spirituality as an access to a socially cohesive and supportive community with a shared set of values, and lifestyle practices of positive coping strategies, good self-esteem, self-efficacy and effective problem solving-skills. This includes the ability to reach out and find help when needed.7

This process does, however, ask for commitment. A personal commitment to honestly explore attitudes and behaviors that promote or hinder the ability to grow and learn. And, to challenge long held beliefs about how one views self, other people and the world.

Whether one is in a high risk profession, or simply dealing with the sudden or unexpected life changes, coping with these stresses becomes a personal decision to be the victim or the survivor. To be a survivor requires a personal commitment but one that can be shared and championed as a community.

1. Johnson, Judith, Alex M. Wood, Patricia Gooding, Peter J. Taylor, and Nicholas Tarrier. "Resilience to suicidality: The buffering hypothesis." Clinical psychology review 31, no. 4 (2011): 563-591.

2. Markel, Nicholas, Ralph Trujillo, Philip Callahan and Michael Marks, “Resiliency and Retention in Veterans Returning to College: Results of a Pilot Study” (paper presented at the Veterans in Higher Education Conference: Listening, Responding, Changing for Student Success, Tucson, Arizona, September, 2010)

3. Stanley, Ian H., Melanie A. Hom, and Thomas E. Joiner. "A systematic review of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics." Clinical Psychology Review (2015).

4. Gunderson, Jonathan, Mike Grill, Philip Callahan, and Michael Marks. "An Evidence-based Program for Improving and Sustaining First Responder Behavioral Health." JEMS: Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) 3 (2014): 57-61.

5. Klonsky, E. David, and Alexis M. May. "The Three-Step Theory (3ST): A new theory of suicide rooted in the “ideation-to-action” framework." International Journal of Cognitive Therapy 8, no. 2 (2015): 114-129.

6. O’Connor, Rory C. "The integrated motivational-volitional model of suicidal behavior." Crisis (2015).

7. World Health Organization. Preventing suicide: A global imperative. World Health Organization, 2014.