How to do a Suicidality Assessment
Home/  Blog/ How to do a Suicidality Assessment

How to do a Suicidality Assessment


According to the World Health Organization suicide is a leading cause of death around the world. In 2019 700,000 people died by suicide. That is 1 in every 100 people.



In young people ages 15-29 they found that suicide is the 4th leading cause of death. They also found that in the United States rates of suicide are increasing. According to the statistics suicidal ideation is common and yet it remains stigmatized. To lessen the growing rate of death by suicide we must know what to do when we fear that someone may be struggling and contemplating suicide.



What are the Warning Signs of a Potential Suicide?


First, we should know some warning signs of suicidal ideation. While everyone’s experiences are different there are some common warning signs that we can look for. Here are common warning signs as identified by


  • Talking about wanting to die or complete suicide
  • Talking about feelings of hopelessness or not having a purpose
  • Talking about feeling like a burden
  • Talking about be trapped or being in pain that they can’t get out of
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Engaging in reckless activities



What To Do If You See Warning Signs of Suicide?


Now that we know some warning signs what actions can we take if we think that someone is struggling with suicidal ideation.



As a clinician our first step would be the severity of the suicidal ideation. To do this we would need to ask our client questions about what suicidal ideation looks like for them.

    • Have you ever thought about suicide?
    • Have you ever thought about how you might attempt suicide?
    • Do you have the means to follow through with your plan?



After assessing the client there are a few possible outcomes. We may find that the client thinks about suicide but has either no plan or does not have the means. If that is the case, we should continue to assess for a plan or means but no immediate action needs to be taken. If we find out that the client does have a plan and does have the means we must take additional steps to ensure their safety. These additional steps can include the following:


Form A Safety Plan


  • Identify actions that the client can take when they begin to struggle
    • Examples can include going for a walk, getting out of their house or engaging in helpful breathing exercises.


  • Identify people they can reach out to.
    • Examples can include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, crisis resources in their area, trusted family or friends or you, their clinician.


  • If the client feels like they cannot adhere to a safety plan further actions may need to be taken.
    • These actions can include exploring a high level of care, calling 911 or going to emergency room.



Contact Emergency Services 


  • Ideally the client would go directly to an emergency room. However, if a client will not do that, you may need to call 911 to get direct medical transport for the client to the emergency room.


  • If a client will go to an emergency room, you may want to call the Hospital as they are traveling there to provide information relevant to their case.


  • If you believe the client may be at risk, but you do not have enough data to warrant a call to 911, you can also request the police to do a “Safety Check” at their home. This is a service provided where the police will go to the clients house and check on them directly. Anyone can request a Safety Check.



These types of crisis situations can feel overwhelming but with knowing what steps to take and questions to ask can help us keep out clients safe.



Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals.  However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.






Written and reviewed by

Dr Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, ACS, LMFT

Dr. Kyle Zrenchik is the Co-Founder of ALL IN, the Creator of the Couples Erotic Flow model for treating sexual issues in individuals and couples, Designer of the Deep Dive programs at ALL IN, and is one of the most well-respected couples counselors in the Twin Cities.