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J Affect Disord. 1999 Jan-Mar;52(1-3):77-83.

Teaching front-line health and voluntary workers to assess and manage suicidal patients.

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Department of Community Psychiatry and Guild NHS Trust, Royal Preston Hospital, Fulwood, UK.



To devise and evaluate the retention of a new brief training package for non-psychiatrically trained multidisciplinary staff to assess suicide risk and manage suicidal patients, including referral of patients at significant risk to psychiatric staff.


8 h of interview skills training, using role play with modelling and video feedback, was taught to 33 health and voluntary workers. Evaluation used a controlled before and after training design. Performance of the interview skills was assessed blindly by raters using predetermined criteria from videotaped role played interviews with actors. Self-rated questionnaires (SIRI-2 and visual analogue scales) were used to assess the clinical skills and confidence respectively of the front-line workers.


Suicide risk assessment and management skills such as problem solving, future coping and provision of immediate support were significantly improved at 1 month after training. Training did not significantly improve general interview skills, combating hopelessness nor the removal of lethal weapons. Performance on the SIRI-2 and confidence significantly improved after training. The assessment procedure itself did not improve clinical skills nor confidence.


Performance among individual health disciplines was not assessed. Design was not a randomised controlled trial with short follow up and no patient outcome data.


A brief training package is available which is effective in teaching suicide risk assessment and clinical management skills.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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