Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR) teaches best practices recommended by the nation's leading experts in the research and delivery of suicide care.
“Educating the mental health workforce to assess and respond to suicide risk is essential to the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, and to efforts such as the Zero Suicide initiative for providing ‘suicide safer’ care systems.”
The AMSR for Direct Care Staff Working in Outpatient Settings curriculum develops skills in the recognition, assessment, and management of suicide risk and the delivery of effective suicide-specific interventions.
Suicide and People Receiving Mental Health Care
Suicidal behavior is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. Each year, over 45,000 people die by suicide1 and hundreds of thousands are seen in hospital emergency departments for suicide attempts.2 A significant proportion of people who died by suicide had recent contact with a mental health professional3. However, many providers—psychologists, social workers, and other mental health counselors—are inadequately trained to assess, treat, and manage suicide risk in their clients.[fn]Schmitz, W. M., Jr, Allen, M. H., Feldman, B. N., Gutin, N. J., Jahn, D. R., Kleespies, P. M., . . . Simpson, S. (2012). Preventing suicide through improved training in suicide risk assessment and care: An American Association of Suicidology Task Force report addressing serious gaps in U.S. mental health training. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 42(3), 292–304.
“Many clinical training programs do not fully prepare health care professionals to provide suicide care.”
Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR) fills that training gap by teaching the core competencies that meet suicide care standards established by national organizations including The Joint Commission, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Veterans Administration, and others.
Outpatient direct care professionals can help identify and support clients with suicide risk by using the suicide risk identification, assessment, and management competencies taught in the AMSR-Direct Care Inpatient training.
AMSR-Direct Care Outpatient
The AMSR Direct Care Outpatient curriculum follows national guidelines for caring for people with suicide risk including:
- National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Recommended Standard Care for People with Suicide Risk: Making Healthcare Suicide Safe
- VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guidelines Assessment and Management of Patients At Risk for Suicide
- The Joint Commission recommendations for compliance with NPSG 15.01.01 and Suicide Risk Recommendations from the Suicide Risk Reduction Expert Panel Suicide Prevention Portal
- National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Suicide Prevention and the Clinical Workforce: Guidelines for Training
The training provides participants with the knowledge and skills they need to address suicide risk and behaviors in outpatient setting clients. Participants will have the opportunity to increase their knowledge and apply practical skills in the following areas:
Approaching Your Work: Learn how to manage reactions related to suicide and maintain a collaborative, non-adversarial stance. Acquire the skills to address potential conflicts between a direct care staff person’s goal to prevent suicide and maintain a client’s safety and a client’s goal to eliminate psychological pain via suicidal behavior.
Understanding Suicide: Gain an understanding of the definitions and language used when talking about suicide, as well as the data that are relevant to addressing suicide in treatment populations including risk and protective factors, warning signs, and precipitating factors.
Gathering Information: Identify key points in treatment when a suicide assessment should occur, the type of information to gather to inform the assessment, and ways to build trust and thus elicit key information about the client’s risk of suicide. The training presents case studies and videos for group and individual modalities, and other interactive exercises.
Formulating Risk: Practice synthesizing assessment information into a risk formulation that will help inform next steps in treatment. AMSR emphasizes the importance of using a risk formulation not for prediction, but as information to make a collaborative decision regarding recovery-oriented treatment planning.
Planning and Responding: Learn to use evidence-based suicide prevention interventions to maintain client safety during inpatient treatment and develop a post-acute care treatment plan. Practice having conversations related to safety planning, contingency planning, and means counseling interventions.
This training is best utilized by those working in organizations where clinicians are trained in the full 6.5-hour version of AMSR for Outpatient Settings so that treatment teams of clinicians and direct care staff can speak the same risk assessment and management language to provide consistent, effective care.
- 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019). 2017, United States Suicide Injury Deaths and Rates per 100,000. WISQARS. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, NCHS Vital Statistics System for numbers of deaths. Bureau of Census for population estimates. https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html
- 2. Rui P, Kang K, Ashman JJ. (2016). National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2016 emergency department summary tables. Table 16. Emergency department visits related to injury, poisoning, and adverse effect, by intent: United States, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ahcd/nhamcs_emergency/2016_ed_web_tables.pdf https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhamcs/web_tables/2016_ed_web_tables.pdf
- 3. Ahmedani, B. K., Simon, G. E., Stewart, C., Beck, A., Waitzfelder, B. E., Rossom, R., … Solberg, L. I. (2014). Health care contacts in the year before suicide death. Journal of general internal medicine, 29(6), 870–877. doi:10.1007/s11606-014-2767-3
- 4. National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: Transforming Health Systems Initiative Work Group. (2018). Recommended standard care for people with suicide risk: Making health care suicide safe. Washington, DC: Education Development Center, Inc.
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