Suicide Assessment and Intervention
Online Course Materials: Articles Audios Articles
Developed by Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
General Course Description
On September 1, 2017, Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 89 (Levine). This law added section 2915.4 to the Business and Professions Code, became effective January 1, 2020. An applicant for licensure as a psychologist with the CA Board of Psychology shall show completion of a minimum of six (6) hours of coursework or applied experience in suicide assessment and intervention. See https://www.psychology.ca.gov/laws_regs/ab89_suicide_prevention.shtml
Also, as of January 1, 2021, the CA-BBS Suicide Prevention Training bill AB 1436 ( Levine), will require applicants for licensure as CA-MFTs, CA-CSWs, CA-PCCs, and LEPs to demonstrate completion of a minimum of six (6) hours or supervised experience in suicide risk assessment and intervention. Current licensees would also be required to demonstrate completion of this coursework or supervised experience in their first renewal period after this date. See https://bbs.ca.gov/pdf/suicide_prevention.pdf
This course consists of 10 articles and 5 podcasts (transcripts provided), including suicide statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. It explains both standard and the latest assessment instruments for assessing suicide risk. It exposes the flaws in the too-often used no-suicide contract, explaining why such contracts serve more to protect the therapist than the client and in doing so may actually make some suicides more likely. In addition to presenting effective risk-management techniques that also enhance good therapy, the course covers suicide from both the perspective of the clinician and client, covering such issues as what a suicidal state of mind feels like, and how the fear, as well as actual client suicides, affect therapists. A section of the course presents the humane, unique and non-pathological approach to suicidality by David Webb, the first person to attempt suicide and eventually earn a Ph.D. in the study of suicide. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.
- This course will teach the participant to
- Describe the incidence of suicides in the United States.
- Identify suicide risk assessment instruments.
- Explain how to establish a therapeutic relationship with suicidal clients.
- Discuss effective legal risk management practices.
- Describe suicide from the perspective of potential suicidal clients.
- Identify the risk factors for suicide.
- Discuss the risk, prevention and treatment of suicide among LGBT adolescents.
- Belsher BE, Smolenski DJ, Pruitt LD, Bush NE, Beech EH, Workman DE, et al. (2019) Prediction models for suicide attempts and deaths: a systematic review and simulation. JAMA Psychiatry 76:642–51
- Donker, T., Calear, A., Grant, J. B., Van Spijker, B., Fenton, K., Hehir, K. K., … & Christensen, H. (2013). Suicide prevention in schizophrenia spectrum disorders and psychosis: a systematic review. BMC psychology, 1(1), 6. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/2050-7283-1-6.
- Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Shaw, S. L. (2017). Suicide risk assessment: What psychologists should know. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48(2), 98–106. https://doi.org/10.1037/pro0000106
- Incidence of suicide
- Assessing Suicide Risk
- Dr. David Jobes’ Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS)
- Major life or situation changes
- Co-morbid disorders
- Other factors
- Suicide among LGBT youth
- Suicide prevention
- Ethical and legal considerations for therapists
- Why no-suicide contracts are not a protection against sanctions
- Duty to warn
- Contacting family after a suicide
- Autopsy subpoenas
- Effects of suicide upon therapists
- Connecting with suicidal clients
- How therapists’ fears may get in the way
- The importance of genuine exploration of suicidal thinking
- Suicide as a valid option
- Assisted suicide
- Recognition of client’s endless psychological or physical suffering