Recognizing Suicidal Clients According to Rogers, Gueulette, Abbey-Hines, Carney & Werth (2001), about 71% of mental health counselors or therapist acknowledges that he or she has worked with at least one client who attempted to end his or her life. Furthermore, approximately 28% has worked with a client that has been successful in committing suicide (Gueulette et. al, 2001). These high numbers means that counselors should be able to adequately assess whether or not clients are suicidal. There are many surveys, assessments, and questionnaires that can be used by clinicians to assist in evaluating whether or not a client is considered a suicide risk. According to Goldblatt and Maltsberger (2011), one of the most important techniques used to evaluate clients is a face-to-face interview. In other words the client-therapist relationship becomes crucial in assessing whether or not an individual is suicidal.
Shea (2002) argues that a face to face assessment that can be used to evaluate a client’s suicidal risk is a crises interview. During this interview the clinician will ask direct questions regarding suicide thoughts. An example is a clinician asking a client specifically, “are you thinking about killing yourself or committing suicide?” The language is specific rather than using more pleasant phrases such as “self destructive feelings.” The purpose of using these particular phrases is because it will communicate with the client that the clinician is able to deal with their thoughts taking his or her own life, and the client can freely express his or her thoughts or feelings (Shea, 2002).
Another assessment that can be used in order to assess whether a client is suicidal is the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS). According to Jobes, Moore, and O’Connor (2007) this approach incorporates “psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, humanistic, existential, and interpersonal” (p. 285). The first step in CAMS is identifying the risk of suicide early. This is when a clients reports he or she is having suicidal ideation. The second step is completing a Collaborative Assessment using a Suicide Status Form (SSF). The client and clinician complete this form together. Following this the client and clinician complete a Collaborative Treatment Plan. This is also completed together. This is only completed after the clinician and client has a clear understanding of the thoughts and feelings the client is experiencing (Jobes, Moore, & O’Connor, 2007). After the Collaborate Treatment Plan is finished, the client is on suicide status, which means the client is monitored closely. The final step is the Clinician keeps track of the suicide status of the client by using the SSF. The final step is the Clinician determines the outcome of the client’s suicide status. If after three consecutive sessions a client no longer reports having suicidal thoughts, the clients Suicide Status CAMS case is completed (Jobes, Moore, & O’Connor, 2007). CAMS provide a method of assessment, treatment, and follow up for the clinician to use.
Butcher, Mineka, and Hooley (2012) mentions in order to avoid a client committing suicide is to treat any underlying mental disorder(s) the client may be diagnosed with. An example is a client who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but contemplating suicide due to the effects of this…