Identify and Assist

Identify and assist persons at risk

  • Many people in distress do not seek help or support on their own. Identifying people at risk for suicide can help you reach those in the greatest need and connect them to care and support. 
  • Examples of activities in this strategy include gatekeeper training, suicide screening, and teaching warning signs.

Provider actions

  • Be aware of just how common mental health symptoms are in general, and how they may, under unfavorable circumstances, lead to increased suicide risk. 
  • Help encourage community-wide recognition of suicidal risk. 
  • Primary care providers need to be especially aware of these issues, but many other people in other walks of life can help detect and aid people at increased suicide risk: families, friends, neighbors, first responders (EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement), educators (teachers, coaches) and clergy.

Actions in practice

  • Consider screening regularly for depression and suicide using a widely accepted screening tool such as the PHQ-9, supplemented by additional assessment, using such instruments as NIMH's ASQ (Ask Suicide-Screening Questions) or SAMHSA's SAFE-T.
  • For anyone screening positively for suicidal ideation, consider further, more specific assessment using an instrument such as the Columbia Suicide Screening Rating Scale (C-SSRS). There is a version of the C-SSRS when used with the SAFE-T Protocol, that also provides a very useful triage scheme that can help guide the next steps.

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