Assessment of Suicide Risk

Ronald A. Stolberg and Bruce Bongar

in Oxford Handbook of Personality Assessment

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195366877
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Assessment of Suicide Risk

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  • Psychology
  • Psychological Assessment and Testing
  • Clinical Psychology



The assessment of suicide risk remains one of the most important, complex, and difficult tasks performed by clinicians. Many suicidal individuals do not voluntarily report their thoughts or plans for self-harm to the professionals who are trained to act accordingly. If we work from the premise that not all patients are willing to admit their suicidal ideation to their health-care provider, then we must utilize other resources to guide our intervention strategies. Because suicide is one of the few fatal consequences of a psychiatric illness, accurate assessment of suicide risk is essential. The optimal risk assessment integrates a sound clinical interview with actuarial instruments providing supplementary or clarifying information. This article explores the historical and contemporary literature on the use of psychological tests, suicide scales, and risk estimators, as well as the epidemiological and clinical data on risk factors. It highlights the importance of formulation of clinical judgment via important clinical observations and key elements in the clinical interview, as integral components of a model of comprehensive clinical assessment and risk management.

Keywords: suicide; suicide risk; risk assessment; self-harm; clinical assessment; suicidal ideation; actuarial instruments; clinical interview; risk factors; risk management

Article.  20852 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Psychological Assessment and Testing ; Clinical Psychology

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