Overview of Suicide-Focused Assessment

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Presented by Douglas G. Jacobs, MD, Stop a Suicide Today

How can clinicians effectively assess for suicide and what does an effective assessment entail? In this talk, Jacobs describes the components of the SAFE-T suicide protocol he developed. Jacobs outlines why he believes it’s important to emphasize the protocol’s step of the suicide inquiry.

Watch now to learn more about:

  • Effective suicide assessments
  • The components of a suicide inquiry
  • Assessment of ideation denial

Jacobs discusses why experts find it challenging to assess for suicide and what an effective assessment entails. He says that as part of this process, clinicians should determine a patient’s safety needs, level of risk, treatment setting, and treatment plan.

Jacobs developed the SAFE-T suicide protocol, a five-step evaluation and triage for clinicians, to identify and document a patient’s levels of suicide risk. The protocol includes common and necessary steps clinicians can take to identify a patient’s risk and protective factors, conduct a suicide inquiry, determine the level of risk, and then document the level of risk.

Jacobs describes how since he first developed SAFE-T, he has placed greater emphasis on the protocol’s step of conducting a suicide inquiry. A suicide inquiry allows clinicians to come up with an assessment that identifies a patient at varying levels of risk.

Jacobs outlines the components of a suicide inquiry, including a patient’s ideation, intent, ambivalence, lethality, possible command hallucinations and delusions, and the potential to harm others in addition to themselves. He also addresses how clinicians are often confronted with a patient’s denial about suicidal ideation as well as reasons for such denial.