In this article, we have traced some of the dominant cultural narratives shaping current understandings of youth crime and suicide. We have aimed to show some of the ways that our received understandings of what the problem is and what should be done about it are social constructions that privilege a certain kind of scientific explanation. By starting from the premise that narrow, highly regulated approaches to studying these complex problems are bound to be inadequate we have argued that alternative ways of thinking, studying and doing prevention need to be considered. A number of theoretical frameworks, including constructionist, critical, and postmodern paradigms, have been identified as having a useful contribution to make. We conclude by recommending ways of thinking and doing prevention that capitalize on young people’s wisdom, recognize more collaborative approaches to knowledge-making and community building, and enable multiple forms of critical engagement and resistance as well as engendering practices of hope and solidarity.