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In the event of suicide risk, you may take steps to promote the client's safety, including the potential for breaking confidentiality, arranging for an emergency evaluation over the client's objections, and involving emergency personnel. Clients should not be given the false impression that everything is confidential or that all types of treatment are always voluntary.
Nearly one-quarter (23%) of professional counselors have experienced a client suicide. Mental health professionals who experience a client suicide describe it as "the most profoundly disturbing event of their professional careers".
Suicide represents one of the leading causes of mortality in the United States. Suicidality is a topic relevant to all mental health care providers. About one-third of people in the general population report having had suicidal ideation during some point in their lives. As many as two-thirds of patients who commit suicide visited their physician within one month of their death.
The primary challenge to the provider is prediction of suicide, or assessment of degree of intent. Prediction of suicide in the individual patient remains among the most formidable of clinical challenges and expression of suicidal ideation or intent warrants aggressive intervention.
The evaluation itself consists of three main parts:
1. Eliciting suicidal ideation or intent
2. Gathering data on risk as well as protective factors for suicide
3. Weighing items one and two to make clinical decisions about safety
We have a new, 6 credit course, Suicide Assessment, Treatment and Management, if you are interested in brushing-up on your suicide risk assessment.
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