The Suicide Probability Scale: A Means to Assess Substance Abusing Clients' Suicide Risk

By Valadez, Albert; Juhuke, Gerald A. et al. | Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

The Suicide Probability Scale: A Means to Assess Substance Abusing Clients' Suicide Risk


Valadez, Albert, Juhuke, Gerald A., Coll, Kenneth M., Granello, Paul F., Peters, Scott, Zambrano, Elias, Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research


Although substance abusing clients may not be the primary treatment population that most counselors serve, it is nearly inevitable that at one time or another, the vast majority of counselors will encounter clients presenting with substance use issues. Given the significant suicide risk with persons meeting substance abuse and substance dependence criteria, it is imperative that counselors be aware of both the frequency of suicide among these treatment populations and the means to assess such risk. The authors describe the frequency of suicide and findings purporting that substance abusing and substance dependent clients are at increased suicide risk. The Suicide Probability Scale (SPS) is then described along with a description of how the authors utilized the instrument with substance abusing and substance dependent clients presenting with suicidal ideation.

Contrary to the beliefs of some counselors, substance abusing clients do not have to be physically or psychologically dependent to substances to be a significant risk for suicide; substance abusing clients can also be in danger. Nevertheless, those who are substance dependent do present extreme suicide risk. Thus, the intent of this article is to provide counselors who may at one time or another encounter substance abusing or substance dependent clients a succinct literature review of the correlation between suicidal behaviors and substance use and a description and general overview of a suicide assessment instrument we have found helpful when counseling both youth and adults who are abusing substances and report at least some degree of suicidal ideation or thought. Two accompanying clinical vignette examples are used to further demonstrate how we utilize the Suicide Probability Scale (SPS) with our clients.

Approximately 32,000 Americans committed suicide in 2005 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007a). That equates to nearly 89 people within the US committing suicide each day or one suicide every 17 minutes. Overall suicide is the 11th leading cause of deaths in the US (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007a). Among Americans ages 25-34, suicide is the second leading cause of death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007b), whereas for ages 10 to 24, it is the third leading cause of death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007b). Nearly 12% of all deaths among this latter group of youth result from suicide.

Given these alarming numbers, suicide assessment is especially important to counselors treating youth and adults who are substance abusing or substance dependent (Juhnke, 2002; Rogers, 1992). When compared with the general US population, it has long been noted that potential for suicidal behavior is significantly greater for substance abusing persons as well as persons presenting with diagnosable mental disorders (Maris, 1991; Nekanda-Trepka, Bishop, & Blackburn, 1983; Rich, Young, & Fowler, 1986; Stillion, McDowell, & May, 1989). Given that substance abuse and dependence in particular are diagnosable mental disorders, clients meeting these diagnostic criteria deserve special attention related to suicide (Foster, 2001; Rogers, 1992).

Substance Use and Suicide Risk

Counselors should be aware that alcohol dependent persons may be 60 to 120 times more likely to risk suicide than a non-psychiatrically diagnosed population (Hufford, 2001). Several reasons have been proposed to explain this greater risk among Alcohol Dependent persons: (a) their experiences of more frequent negative life events (e.g., marital discord, family dysfunction, and employment problems), (b) the high comorbidity rates of alcohol dependence and depression, (c) their high rates of helplessness and hopelessness, (d) common personality characteristics of impulsivity and sociopathy, and (d) family histories of suicide (Hufford, 2001; Roy, 1993; Roy, 2000). Therefore, until determined otherwise via clinical interviews and diagnostic assessments, alcohol dependent clients should be considered at significant suicide risk due to their long-term and immediate psychological and social dysfunctions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Suicide Probability Scale: A Means to Assess Substance Abusing Clients' Suicide Risk
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.