Suicide Assessment, Treatment & Management

Course materials are available as articles, audio with transcripts, and video with transcripts.

Suicide attempts and completions can leave patients, families, and even providers struggling for answers. Causes and best practices remain topics of research and approaches to assessment and treatment continue to evolve with the introduction of new interventions and technologies. This course is designed to provide an overview of key topics clinicians need to remain aware of in order to provide effective assessment and intervention.

This intermediate course consists of four articles, two audio interviews, and two audio and video interviews. The course material includes suicide statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as a suicide checklist for clinicians. It explains effective risk-management techniques that also enhance good therapy with interviews with Dr. David Jobes, Rita Schulte, LPC, Dr. Glenn Marks, and Dr. Trent Davis. 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 is not the most helpful to the client. The course covers suicide from both the perspective of the clinician and the client along with a surviving family member.

The content delves into such issues as what a suicidal state of mind feels like, and how the fear, as well as actual client suicides, affect therapists. There is an additional focus on working with special populations such as the military and veterinary professionals. Additional resources including links to useful apps and references are provided for further study, but are not part of the course.


  • Incidence of suicide
  • Assessing Suicide Risk
    • Assessment strategies include ecological momentary assessment, digital phenotyping, cognitive and implicit bias metrics, and neuroimaging paradigms and analysis methodologies to identify neural circuits associated with suicide risk
    • Dr. David Jobes’ Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS)
    • Depression
    • Stress
    • Major life or situation changes
    • Co-morbid disorders
    • Other factors – such as type of work and economics
  • Interventions associated with assessing suicide risk
    • Brief Interventions via Electronic Health Record Messaging
    • Dr. Trent Davis, Virginia Tech Counseling Services and animal assistants
  • Suicide risk and suicide among clients in the Military
    • Dr. Glenn Marks military culture and considerations
  • Suicide prevention
  • Ethical and legal considerations for therapists
    • Why no-suicide contracts are not a protection against sanctions
  • Effects of suicide upon therapists and family members
    • Rita Schulte, LPC therapy and surviving spouse considerations of care
    • Legal
    • Emotional
    • Professional
  • Connecting with suicidal clients
    • How therapists’ fears may get in the way
    • The importance of genuine exploration of suicidal thinking
    • Resources that involve listening to the client’s story, apps, music, and videos

Educational Objectives

  • Describe the incidence of suicides in the United States.
  • Evaluate the potential risk of suicide.
  • Identify suicide risk therapies and techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality.
  • Explain how to establish a therapeutic relationship with suicidal clients.
  • Identify the some of the many risk factors for suicide.
  • Discuss the risk, prevention, and treatment of suicide among Military clients.
  • Define unique qualities among students and professionals in the field of Veterinary care services that involve suicide risk.