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Assessment of suicide risk

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The routine assessment of suicide risk is an important clinical skill.

People most at risk will have strong suicidal ideation with frequent, intense and prolonged thoughts of suicide, as well as a previous history of multiple well planned attempts where rescue was unlikely. They express an unambiguous wish to die have a clear plan and the means to carry it out. When the picture is less clearcut it is a matter of clinical judgement as to the severity of the risk.

Factors associated with risk:

  • Having a clear plan
  • Having the means to carry out the plan
  • Age(45 an older)
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Irritation, rage, violence
  • Prior suicidal behaviour
  • Male
  • Medication usage
  • Unwilling to accept help
  • Longer than usual duration of current depression
  • Prior inpatient psychiatric treatment
  • Recent loss or seperation
  • Loss of physical health
  • Unemployed or retired
  • Single, widowed or divorced.

Assessment instrumentsEdit

Main article: Suicide risk assessment tools


Clinical guidelinesEdit

Recently a number of clinical guidelines have been published:

What to do if you think suicide is likelyEdit

Arrange for a psychiatric assessment with a view to a protective hospital admission.




See also Edit

References & BibliographyEdit

Key textsEdit

BooksEdit

  • Beck A T, H. Resnik and J. Lettier (1974)The Prediction of Suicide.Charles Press :
  • Maris, R. W., Berman, A. L. & Silverman, M. M. (2000). Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology. Guilford Press: New York.

PapersEdit

  • Beck, A. T., Schuyler, D. & Herman, I. (1974). Development of suicidal intent scales. In: The Prediction of Suicide (ed. A. T. Beck, H. Resnik and J. Lettier), pp. 45–56. Charles Press.
  • Beck, A. T., Kovacs, M., and Weissman, A. Assessment of suicidal intention: The Scale for Suicidal Ideation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
  • Beck, A. T. & Steer, R. A. (1989). Clinical predictors of eventual suicide : a five to ten year prospective study of suicide attempters. Journal of Affective Disorders 17, 203–209.


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