Suicide Risk Assessment Tool 'Valuable Step' in Suicide Prevention: Professor

By Thomson, Aly | The Canadian Press, September 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

Suicide Risk Assessment Tool 'Valuable Step' in Suicide Prevention: Professor


Thomson, Aly, The Canadian Press


Suicide risk assessment tool breaking ground

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HALIFAX - A new suicide risk assessment tool used by health professionals in some Nova Scotia hospitals is a "valuable step" towards preventing suicide and should be implemented on a wider scale, a psychiatry professor says.

A task force led by Joseph Sadek of Dalhousie University recently developed a one-page form that arms mental health providers in the Capital District Health Authority and IWK Health Centre with a tool to identify a patient's level of suicide risk.

Under a policy implemented in early July, the form must be filled out by a mental health care provider for any patient who comes to a health centre with mental health concerns, said Sadek.

"The policy was basically aimed around a risk assessment that needs to be done, and when it's done and the patient is found to be at risk of suicide, then (determining) what can we do about it," Sadek said in an interview.

Sadek said the form is breaking new ground in suicide prevention as the 10th anniversary of World Suicide Prevention Day is being marked on Monday.

He said the Halifax-based task force had looked at similar tools in Europe and across North America.

"But there hasn't been a combination of the most important steps that need to be taken," Sadek said.

The form consists of a communication, management and monitoring plan, which can be implemented depending on the patient's level of risk.

If a patient is at a moderate or high risk of suicide, other physicians that person may be referred to must be notified of the risk.

'"There is some kind of direct warning that goes on to the next service... and we think this is very important," said Sadek.

The form may also call for a round-the-clock monitoring of the patient or a check-up visit in 24 hours. …

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