AMSR: Core Competencies for Health and Behavioral Health Professionals Working in Outpatient Settings

Over 47,000 people died by suicide in the U.S. in 2017. Outpatient mental health professionals play a critical role in the identification, assessment, and long-term management of suicide risk among their clients.

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.” 

Anthony R. Pisani, University of Rochester

The AMSR for Health and Behavioral Health Professionals Working in Outpatient Settings (AMSR-Outpatient) 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 professional. However, many providers—psychologists, social workers, and other mental health counselors—are inadequately trained to assess, treat, and manage suicide risk in their clients.3

“Many clinical training programs do not fully prepare health care professionals to provide suicide care.” 

National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention4 

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 providers can help patients with elevated suicide risk remain in their community setting and recover, by using the suicide risk identification, assessment, and management competencies taught in the AMSR-Outpatient training.

AMSR-Outpatient

The AMSR Outpatient curriculum follows national guidelines for caring for people with suicide risk including:

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 clinician’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 the main domains to be assessed in a comprehensive risk assessment and explores why a client my not disclose suicidal thoughts. Participants practice using assessment questions in an interactive learning environment designed to help build confidence. The training presents case studies 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 based on a formulation of the client’s suicide risk. Learn which evidence-based treatments and suicide prevention interventions to use with clients based on their level of acuity. Practice having conversations related to safety planning, contingency planning, and means counseling interventions.

This training is complemented by the 3.5-hour version of AMSR for Direct Care Staff in Outpatient Settings, which helps treatment teams of clinicians and direct care staff speak the same risk assessment and management language to provide consistent, effective care organization-wide.  

  • 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.  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.
  • 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.

Cost

$135 per person plus trainer fee and travel. Discounts available for organizations interested in training large numbers of staff. Email amsr@edc.org for additional pricing information.

Duration

6.5 hours

Audience

Behavioral health clinicians working in outpatient settings who conduct suicide risk assessments, primarily those with a master’s degree or above.

Credits

Completion of the AMSR-Outpatient training includes 6.5 CE credit hours with APA, CA BBS, WADH, KY MFT, NYSED, and NASW. AMA CME credits are available with 35 days' notice and an additional fee.

Get Started

Hand on computer mouse

Find a Training

AMSR trainings take place nationwide. Find one close to you.

Trainer shaking hands with participant

Sponsor a Training

Sponsoring an AMSR training has never been easier.

Trainer

Become a Trainer

Discover the benefits of becoming an AMSR trainer.