Management of Chronic Suicidality

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

David Jobes, PhD, Catholic University of America, presents as part of the 2023 Suicide-Focused Assessment and Treatment: An Update for Professionals course.

Chronic Suicidality

In his talk, Jobes describes how the field of suicidology has been preoccupied for decades in the pursuit of treatments for suicidal people.

As part of that pursuit, Jobes and his colleagues categorize suicidal states in terms of acute versus chronic. According to Jobes, these labels help researchers understand differing responses people may have to treatments.

Watch now to learn more about:

  • How chronic and acute states of suicidality differ
  • Who is most likely to experience chronic suicidality and why
  • How CAMS treats people who experience suicidality

Jobes points out that people who experience chronic suicidality can experience an improvement in overall symptoms of distress, but that their attachment to suicide may not change. He explains that some people in this category describe their attachment to suicide as a type of relationship.

As part of his presentation, Jobes outlines a study in which he and his colleagues looked at demographics related to chronic suicidality.

They discovered that 90% of people who presented with the chronic form of suicidality were women. Women who experienced chronic suicidality reported a higher rate of wishing to die than women who were acutely suicidal or men who were chronically suicidal.

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Jobes also describes the treatment he and his colleagues developed to treat chronic suicidality: collaborative assessment and management of suicidology (CAMS).

CAMS is a framework with a focus on empathy, collaboration, and honesty.

CAMS targets and treats drivers: the factors that patients point to as the reasons they consider suicide.

In the assessment phase of CAMS, a patient and clinician collaboratively work on an assessment tool that is designed to keep the patient out of the hospital. “But to do that, we have to have a rock-solid stabilization plan and identify the two factors that make [the patient] suicidal,” Jobes explains.

Jobes outlines how CAMS is being used effectively in medical centers, university counseling centers, as well as The Hope Institute, a clinical setting. He shares that the treatment could fill the gap in situations where a hospital bed is not available or when a patient would fare better outside a hospital setting.

Jobes states that with CAMS, he would like to challenge the belief that every person who experiences chronic suicidality belongs in the hospital.

“There’s a subset of people that always need to go to the hospital,” he says. “But there’s a large population of people with serious thoughts of suicide that can be effectively cared for on an outpatient basis.”


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About David Jobes

Dr. David Jobes is a professor of psychology and director of the Suicide Prevention Laboratory at The Catholic University of America. He is a past president of the American Association of Suicidology and has mentored dozens of students in suicidology over three decades.

Jobes is the creator and developer of the prominent collaborative assessment and management of suicidology (CAMS), a suicide-focused clinical intervention.