Your can view more videos in this series with Kay Redfield Jamison here.

Studies of stress among therapists and counselors show that suicide threats and attempts by those they serve are the two most extreme stresses encountered in professional work. The death of patient by suicide is even more traumatic. Yet, it is impossible to participate in the healing arts and not encounter suicidal clients.
Dr. Paul Quinnett, Founder and CEO QPR Institute, from

Before the 1990s, counseling centers were largely seen as places where students could go to explore developmental issues, roommate conflicts, and homesickness. Now, most counseling centers report a drastic increase in the severity of presenting issues and the number of clients engaging in various levels of deliberate self-harm. Because of the increased risks of suicide counselors are currently seeing, many are seeking best practices for training, assessment and treatment.

Only professional mental health service providers trained in the area of suicide prevention should attempt the process of assessing suicide risk. Because completed suicide has such a low base rate, it is not possible to predict suicide with any accuracy. Rather, the goal of a suicide assessment is not to predict suicide, but rather to place a person along a risk continuum and note changes as a person moves up or down that continuum to allow for a more informed intervention.

According to Dr. Paul Quinnett, mental health service providers fail to detect suicide risk and monitor it appropriately because they have not received the proper training on suicide assessment and intervention.

  • Suicide malpractice is the leading cause of suits against all mental health practitioners
  • 15-20% of completers die while in treatment
  • Few graduate programs in mental health disciplines provide explicit training in suicide assessment and treatment
  • In-depth suicide prevention training by clinicians is effective in lowering risk of completed suicides and life-threatening attempts.

Special Issues:

  • Review of Suicide Assessment Scales
  • Suicide Intervention Best Practices
  • Deliberate Self-Harm and Suicide Risk

For more information, please check out the following links.

  • Suicide Risk Assessment Standards
  • Framework for Institutional Protocols for the Acutely Distressed or Suicidal Student (Jed Foundation)
  • Promoting Mental Health and Preventing Suicide in College Settings (Suicide Prevention Resource Center)
  • When a Client Dies by Suicide
  • Advanced Suicide Prevention Training for Mental Health Professionals
  1. Schumacher, M., Quinnett, P. & Gutierrez, P. (2007) History, Development and Testing of the QPRT Suicide Risk Management Inventory©. Presentation at the American Association of Suicidology’s Annual Conference, New Orleans.
  2. LeBuff, P. & Kiesling, S. (2007, December) Reducing suicide risk in behavioral healthcare settings. Presentation at Devereux, Institute of Clinical Training and Research.
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid