Suicide Risk Assessment


Suicide is defined as the intentional ending of one’s life. It is a rare and complex behaviour with many causes, which makes it difficult to predict. The factor that separates suicidal behaviour from other forms of self-harm and risk-taking is intent.

For behaviour to be suicidal, the person must intend to die. Suicide risk assessments are designed to identify this intent, allowing patients to receive appropriate support and protection. This module is aimed at primary care practitioners without specialist skills or training in mental health, such as registered nurses, midwives, Aboriginal health practitioners and workers.

It will be useful for all members of social and emotional wellbeing teams and where appropriate, program workers. Primary care practitioners are in a key position and have a duty of care to identify people at risk of suicide. However, undertaking a suicide risk assessment can be challenging for clinicians who do not work with suicidal patients on a regular basis. This module outlines the rationale for, and importance of, undertaking a suicide risk assessment.

It discusses the core components of a risk assessment and strategies for completing one. It does not include management interventions that could be employed on completion of the assessment.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of undertaking timely suicide risk assessments.
  • Discuss approaches to take when doing a suicide risk assessment.
  • Explain the role of risk factors in a suicide risk assessment.
  • Explain the role of protective factors in a suicide risk assessment.
  • Identify warning factors to consider in a suicide risk assessment.

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