Suicide Risk Screening Alert: Identifying Risk Factors


Clinical tools and intervention options are available to the psychiatrist treating the suicidal patient. The severity of the patient’s psychiatric condition and the clinician’s experience and training will determine the interventions.

This Tipsheet lists some clinical tools and intervention options available to the clinician treating the suicidal patient. It is for quick reference only and not a replacement for the psychiatrist's experience and training, which are at the heart of what determines the severity of a psychiatric patient's condition. For further information, see "Screening for Suicide Risk in a Brief Medication Management Appointment," from which this Tipsheet is adapted.



•Psychiatric diagnosis
•Suicidal ideation and plan
•Prior attempt(s) and deliberate self-harm
•Anxiety and depression
•Wait for significant, stable, reliable change before relaxing precautions
•Substance abuse
•Do not rely solely on patient self-report of no suicidal ideation
•Recent interpersonal loss
•Impulsivity and aggression
•Family history of suicide
•Recent discharge from a psychiatric hospital
•History of physical and sexual abuse

Clinical Intervention Options for Patients at Risk for Suicide
•Conduct systematic suicide risk assessments
•Increase frequency and length of visitsHospitalize patient
•Review and adjust medications
•Refer patient to intensive outpatient psychotherapy program
•Refer patient to partial hospitalization program
•Maintain contact with therapist in split-treatment arrangements
•Obtain consultation; “never worry alone”



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