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Suicide: Assessment, Treatment and Prevention

7 CE Credit Hours - Online Course - $69.00

Developed by Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

This course fulfills the BOP-CA suicide requirement for psychologists.

Course materials: text/webpage Articles    audio Audios

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General Course Description

Client suicides may be the most severe crisis in a therapist's career, yet surveys consistently find that graduate programs hardly cover the assessment and treatment of suicide. It is estimated that approximately 25 % of psychologists have had a client commit suicide, 11% of pre-doctoral trainees have lost a client to suicide, and an additional 29% have had a client attempt suicide. In addition to the severe emotional and professional effects on therapists whose clients commit suicide, there are legal ramifications as well which every therapist needs to be aware of. Not only are most therapists under-prepared for treating suicidal clients, there may not be another condition so clouded with values and myths. These values and misconceptions can prevent effective treatment. Even worse, therapists who aren't well-versed in the issues surrounding suicide may sometimes accidentally push a client further into suicidal thinking and action.

This intermediate level course consists of 10 articles and 5 podcasts, including suicide statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. Transcripts are provided for all audios/podcasts. It explains both standard and the latest assessment instruments for assessing suicide risk. It exposes the flaws in the too-often used no-suicide contract, explaining why such contracts serve more to protect the therapist than the client and in doing so may actually make some suicides more likely. In addition to presenting effective risk-management techniques that also enhance good therapy, the course covers suicide from both the perspective of the clinician and client, covering such issues as what a suicidal state of mind feels like, and how the fear, as well as actual client suicides, affect therapists. A section of the course presents the humane, unique and non-pathological approach to suicidality by David Webb, the first person to attempt suicide and eventually earn a Ph.D. in the study of suicide. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.

Educational Objectives

This course will teach the participant to:

1.    Describe the incidence of suicides in the United States.

2.    Identify suicide risk assessment instruments.

3.    Explain how to establish a therapeutic relationship with suicidal clients.

4.    Discuss effective legal risk management practices.

5.    Describe suicide from the perspective of potential suicidal clients.

6.    Identify the risk factors for suicide.

7.    Discuss the risk, prevention and treatment of suicide among LGBT adolescents.

Course Syllabus

Incidence of suicide

Assessing Suicide Risk

  • CAGE
  • Dr. David Jobes' Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS)
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Major life or situation changes
  • Co-morbid disorders
  • Other factors

Suicide among LGBT youth

Suicide prevention

Ethical and legal considerations for therapists

  • Why no-suicide contracts are not a protection against sanctions
  • Duty to warn
  • Contacting family after a suicide
  • Autopsy subpoenas

Effects of suicide upon therapists

  • Legal
  • Emotional
  • Professional

Connecting with suicidal clients

  • How therapists' fears may get in the way
  • The importance of genuine exploration of suicidal thinking

Suicide as a valid option

  • Assisted suicide
  • Recognition of client's endless psychological or physical suffering
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