How Can I Identify Clients at Risk for Suicide?

TheraNest is a comprehensive therapy practice management software that helps mental health professionals streamline their practice and provide better care to their patients.

One of the most important aspects of mental health care is identifying and addressing clients who may be at risk for suicide. In this article, we will explore how to identify clients at risk for suicide, the risk factors that can be identified early in the client-patient relationship, and how to create a safe space for clients who may be suicidal.

Identifying clients at risk for suicide can be challenging, but there are several steps that mental health professionals can take to assess the risk. Some of the most important steps include:

  • Asking about suicidal thoughts and behaviors directly
  • Assessing the client’s level of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Identifying any previous suicide attempts or self-harm behaviors
  • Screening for comorbid mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
  • Assessing the client’s support system and access to resources

What Risk Factors for Suicide Can Be Identified Early in the Client/Patient Relationship?

Risk factors for suicide can be identified early in the client-patient relationship through a comprehensive assessment. Some common risk factors include:

  • A previous history of suicide attempts
  • A family history of suicide
  • A history of mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Chronic pain or other medical conditions
  • Recent life stressors, such as the loss of a loved one or job loss

How Can Clinicians Assess Whether a Client Is Suicidal and At Risk for Harming Themselves?

Clinicians can assess whether a client is suicidal by asking them directly about suicidal thoughts and behaviors, as well as asking about any previous suicide attempts or self-harm behaviors. Additionally, clinicians can use suicide risk assessment tools, such as the Suicide Assessment Scale or the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, to evaluate the client’s level of risk.

What Are Some Warning Signs That a Client May Be At Risk for Suicide?

Warning signs that a client may be at risk for suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or hurt oneself
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Expressing feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Giving away prized possessions

How Do You Create a Safe Space for Clients Who Are Suicidal and Encourage Them to Seek Help?

Creating a safe space for clients who are suicidal is crucial for their well-being. Some steps that can be taken to create a safe space include:

  • Being non-judgmental and empathetic
  • Encouraging the client to talk about their feelings and concerns
  • Providing information and resources about suicide prevention
  • Developing a safety plan with the client
  • Encouraging the client to seek professional help

Your Clients Are at Risk. Are You Prepared?

As a mental health professional, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of suicide and to be prepared to take action if a client is at risk. This includes having a thorough understanding of suicide risk assessment tools, being familiar with local resources, and having a plan in place for how to respond in an emergency.


Suicide is a serious public health problem, and it is crucial for mental health professionals to be able to identify clients at risk and take appropriate action.

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