- Patient Comments: Suicide - Causes
- Patient Comments: Suicide - Symptoms and Signs
- Patient Comments: Suicide - Treatment
- Suicide facts
- What is suicide?
- What are the effects of suicide?
- What are some possible causes of suicide?
- What are the risk factors and protective factors for suicide?
- What are the signs and symptoms for suicidal behavior?
- How are suicidal thoughts and behaviors assessed?
- What is the treatment for suicidal thoughts and behaviors? What types of specialists treat people who are suicidal?
- How can people cope with suicidal thoughts?
- How can people cope with the suicide of a loved one?
- Is it possible to prevent a suicide attempt?
- What is the prognosis for someone who has made a suicide attempt or threat?
- Where can people get help for suicidal thoughts?
Quick GuideMedical Ethics: Physicians' Top Ethical Dilemmas
How are suicidal thoughts and behaviors assessed?
The risk assessment for suicidal thoughts and behaviors performed by mental-health professionals often involves an evaluation of the presence, frequency, severity, and duration of suicidal feelings in the individuals they treat as part of a comprehensive evaluation of the person's mental health. Therefore, in addition to asking questions about family mental-health history and about the symptoms of a variety of emotional problems (for example, anxiety, depression, mood swings, bizarre thoughts, substance abuse, eating disorders, and any history of being traumatized), practitioners frequently ask the people they evaluate about any past or present suicidal thoughts (ideations), dreams, intent, and plans. If the individual has ever attempted suicide, information about the circumstances surrounding the attempt, as well as the level of dangerousness of the method and the outcome of the attempt, may be explored. Any other history of violent behavior might be evaluated. The person's current circumstances, like recent stressors (for example, end of a relationship, family problems), sources of support, and accessibility of weapons are often probed. What treatment the person may be receiving and how he or she has responded to treatment recently and in the past, are other issues mental-health professionals tend to explore during an evaluation.
Sometimes professionals assess suicide risk by using an assessment scale. One such scale is called the SAD PERSONS Scale, which identifies risk factors for suicide as follows:
- Sex (male)
- Age younger than 19 or older than 45 years of age
- Depression (severe enough to be considered clinically significant)
- Previous suicide attempt or received mental-health services of any kind
- Excessive alcohol or other drug use
- Rational thinking lost
- Separated, divorced, or widowed (or other ending of significant relationship)
- Organized suicide plan or serious attempt
- No or little social support
- Sickness or chronic medical illness