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It is generally agreed upon by experts in the field of suicide risk assessment, that it is the combination of warning signs, risk factors and protective factors that contributes to overall suicide risk.24
The outcome of a risk assessment will guide what treatment and support options are required immediately to maintain a patient’s safety, and what additional treatment and/or support would be useful to put in place over the coming days and weeks. Options for consideration include an urgent mental health assessment, a non-urgent appointment with a health professional, ongoing support from the GP, increased community and peer support, or a combination of one or more of these initiatives. Where there is any doubt about the level of risk, GPs can contact their local crisis mental health service for consultation and follow up.
Risk assessments provide a forum for open conversation about suicidal thinking, and can help patients to establish hope and maintain a positive belief in their lives.
Further reading and resources
Sivasankaran B. Mental health risk assessment: A guide for GPs. Aust Fam Physician 2011;40(6):366–69
Hayes P. GP Communication: Suicide in general practice. Good Practice. August 2015
Suicide Questions Answers Resources (SQUARE) – Risk assessment questions
Lifeline – Facts about suicide
Suicideline – Estimating the risk of suicide