Suicide Risk Assessment in Mental Health Settings
Fuad, Mamuna Nasim
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Suicide is a significant public health issue in terms of both loss of life and the associated economic burden. The psychological factors associated with suicide and its related behavioral manifestations are not well understood despite decades of focused legislative initiatives and research. The approach to suicide prevention is multifaceted ranging from governmental policies, to public awareness, to clinical interventions for individuals at risk. It is understood that precise prediction and prevention of suicide may never be possible; however, it may be possible to develop an improved understanding of risk and protective factors to estimate the overall level of risk. This estimation of risk can then be directly linked to an individualized treatment plan in order to reduce suicidal behavior. This model is only possible through the use of a systematic approach consisting of the use of validated instruments and methods in combination with clinical judgment by a well-trained provider. The purpose of this document is to review the existing literature regarding suicide risk assessment in mental health settings and identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for improving both research initiatives and clinical practice. The document will conclude with a summary of recommendations for clinical care and future research directions.