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Psychotherapy (Chic). 2012 Mar;49(1):81-90. doi: 10.1037/a0026148.

Suicide risk assessment in clinical practice: pragmatic guidelines for imperfect assessments.

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  • 1Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77080, USA. cfowler@menninger.edu

Abstract

This practice review focuses on the challenges of conducting sensitive and accurate assessments of the relative risk for suicide attempts and completed suicides. Suicide and suicide attempts are a frequently encountered clinical crisis, and the assessment, management, and treatment of suicidal patients is one of the most stressful tasks for clinicians. An array of risk factors, warning signs, and protective factors associated with suicide risk are reviewed; however, we are not yet in possession of evidence-based diagnostic tests that can accurately predict suicide risk on an individual level without also creating an inordinate number of false-positive predictions. Given the current limitations of assessment strategies, clinicians are advised to keep in mind that patients contemplating suicide are under enormous psychological distress, requiring sensitive and thoughtful engagement during the assessment process. An overarching goal of these assessments should be conducted within the therapeutic frame, in which efforts are made to enhance the therapeutic alliance by negotiating a collaborative approach to assessing risk and understanding why thoughts of suicide are so compelling. Within this treatment heuristic, the Suicide Assessment Five-step Evaluation and Triage (SAFE-T) is recommended as a pragmatic multidimensional assessment protocol incorporating the best known risk and protective factors.

PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved

PMID:
22369082
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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