Conversations About Suicide: Strategies for Detecting and Assessing Suicide Risk


Sommers-Flanagan, J. (2018). Conversations about suicide: Strategies for detecting and assessing suicide risk. Journal of Health Service Psychology, 44, 33–45.


When patients disclose suicidal thoughts, clinicians often feel their anxiety rise. The best remedies for clinician anxiety include an understanding of suicide dynamics and a thoughtful and empathic engagement with patients. Engagement with patients typically includes collaborative exploration of eight psychological, interpersonal, and situational dimensions related to suicidality. These dimensions are rooted in suicide theories and empirical research. In this article, specific strategies are described and illustrated, including strategies for initiating conversations about suicide, exploring different dimensions of suicide, and engaging patients in steps to increase their safety.

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