Health care professionals help to prevent suicide through community education and awareness efforts, and by providing intervention and postvention services.
- SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) lists intervention tools, including resources for the Native American population.
- Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is a two-day workshop addressing the immediate risk of suicide.
- The QPR Institute offers a one-hour suicide prevention training course that teaches how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis, and how to Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) someone for help.
Screening and Assessment
- SAFE-T: Suicide Assessment Five-step Evaluation and Triage for Mental Health professionals [PDF - 56 KB] is a five-step guide for clinicians that addresses patient levels of suicide risk and appropriate interventions.
- The Suicide Behaviors Questionnaire Revised (SBQ-R) [PDF - 47 KB] is a screening tool that assesses suicide-related thoughts and behaviors.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists suicide prevention tools, information, and links to resources to help increase awareness of suicide as a public health issue, and promote connectedness and community resources to prevent suicide.
- The Screening for Mental Health website provides a diagnostic questionnaire, Act now to stop a suicide—What to look for—and what to do if you are concerned about someone[PDF - 1.45 MB].
- safeTALK is a three-hour training course for people age 15 and older that teaches how to identify people with thoughts of suicide, and how to connect them to suicide first aid resources.
- The Means Matter website provides information on how a person may attempt suicide, and details the importance of “means reduction” (reducing access to lethal tools/methods).
- Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) is an online training course in means reduction.
- The Connect Program offers training in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.
- The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) offers five free online courses in suicide prevention and Research to Practice Webinars addressing the science of suicide prevention in practical terms.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) website provides resources to aid those affected by suicide.
- The Suicide Prevention Resource Center provides technical assistance, training, and materials to increase the knowledge and expertise of professionals serving people at risk for suicide. Resources include a webpage for professionals serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) offers a guide for medical providers on patient care after a suicide attempt.
Clinical Practice Guideline
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense (VA/DoD) established a Clinical Practice Guideline for the assessment and management of patients at risk for suicide. The guideline identifies critical decision points in the management of suicide risk behavior, and provides clear recommendations on incorporating current information into practice. The guideline is only a tool to assist providers, and is not a substitute for clinical judgment.
The purpose of a safety plan is to act as an intervention to provide specific steps and strategies to decrease suicide risk. The safety plan should be completed as part of a suicide risk assessment, in collaboration between the patient and the provider, and should be documented in the medical record, with a copy provided to the patient. A template is available as are manual instructions on how to complete a safety plan in collaboration with the patient.
The safety plan should include:
- Recognizing the warning sign of an impending crisis.
- Internal coping strategies.
- People or social settings that can provide a distraction.
- People who can be contacted for help.
- Professionals or agencies that can be contacted during a crisis.
- Ways to make the environment safe.