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J Allied Health. 2013 Spring;42(1):56-61.

Suicide risk of your client: initial identification and management for the allied health professional.

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Emergency Department, Psychiatric Triage, Eastern Health and Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Allied health professionals treat clients in varying degrees of distress with complex needs in a wide range of services. A client could be experiencing a chronic or life-changing illness, have a trauma from a critical event, have preexisting mental illness, be dealing with significant health or personal loss, be using substances, or experiencing a depression. At some point an allied health professional will treat a client who may have a diagnosed depression, appear depressed, or have thoughts of suicide. Mental health of clients is everyone's responsibility, especially those working in health. This article aims to increase allied health professionals' understanding of some risk factors and clinical features a client at risk may have and will discuss some initial options of management. It is recommended the allied health professional and organisation be aware of risk factors for suicide but not rely too heavily on risk screening. The worker should have basic skills in recognising poor mood and have a list of useful questions to ask in a crisis. Know your local crisis and supportive mental health services, create links with them, have ongoing professional education and protocols for managing clients at-risk, and be acutely aware of your role and limitations.

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