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

Authors

  • William M. Schmitz Jr Psyd ,

    1. William M. Schmitz Jr., Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Michael H. Allen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Depression Center and the VISN 19 Suicide MIRECC, Denver, CO, USA; Barry N. Feldman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; Nina J. Gutin, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Pasadena, CA, USA; Danielle R. Jahn, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Phillip M. Kleespies, VA Boston Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Paul Quinnett, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA; Skip Simpson, Law Offices of Skip Simpson and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
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  • Michael H. Allen MD,

    1. William M. Schmitz Jr., Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Michael H. Allen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Depression Center and the VISN 19 Suicide MIRECC, Denver, CO, USA; Barry N. Feldman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; Nina J. Gutin, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Pasadena, CA, USA; Danielle R. Jahn, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Phillip M. Kleespies, VA Boston Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Paul Quinnett, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA; Skip Simpson, Law Offices of Skip Simpson and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
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  • Barry N. Feldman Phd ,

    1. William M. Schmitz Jr., Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Michael H. Allen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Depression Center and the VISN 19 Suicide MIRECC, Denver, CO, USA; Barry N. Feldman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; Nina J. Gutin, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Pasadena, CA, USA; Danielle R. Jahn, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Phillip M. Kleespies, VA Boston Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Paul Quinnett, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA; Skip Simpson, Law Offices of Skip Simpson and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
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  • Nina J. Gutin Phd ,

    1. William M. Schmitz Jr., Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Michael H. Allen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Depression Center and the VISN 19 Suicide MIRECC, Denver, CO, USA; Barry N. Feldman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; Nina J. Gutin, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Pasadena, CA, USA; Danielle R. Jahn, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Phillip M. Kleespies, VA Boston Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Paul Quinnett, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA; Skip Simpson, Law Offices of Skip Simpson and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
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  • Danielle R. Jahn MA,

    1. William M. Schmitz Jr., Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Michael H. Allen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Depression Center and the VISN 19 Suicide MIRECC, Denver, CO, USA; Barry N. Feldman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; Nina J. Gutin, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Pasadena, CA, USA; Danielle R. Jahn, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Phillip M. Kleespies, VA Boston Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Paul Quinnett, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA; Skip Simpson, Law Offices of Skip Simpson and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
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  • Phillip M. Kleespies Phd ,

    1. William M. Schmitz Jr., Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Michael H. Allen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Depression Center and the VISN 19 Suicide MIRECC, Denver, CO, USA; Barry N. Feldman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; Nina J. Gutin, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Pasadena, CA, USA; Danielle R. Jahn, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Phillip M. Kleespies, VA Boston Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Paul Quinnett, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA; Skip Simpson, Law Offices of Skip Simpson and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
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  • Paul Quinnett Phd ,

    1. William M. Schmitz Jr., Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Michael H. Allen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Depression Center and the VISN 19 Suicide MIRECC, Denver, CO, USA; Barry N. Feldman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; Nina J. Gutin, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Pasadena, CA, USA; Danielle R. Jahn, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Phillip M. Kleespies, VA Boston Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Paul Quinnett, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA; Skip Simpson, Law Offices of Skip Simpson and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
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  • Skip Simpson JD

    1. William M. Schmitz Jr., Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Michael H. Allen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Depression Center and the VISN 19 Suicide MIRECC, Denver, CO, USA; Barry N. Feldman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA; Nina J. Gutin, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Pasadena, CA, USA; Danielle R. Jahn, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Phillip M. Kleespies, VA Boston Healthcare System and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Paul Quinnett, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA; Skip Simpson, Law Offices of Skip Simpson and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
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  • The views expressed in this article are solely those of the task force and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. government.

Address correspondence to William M. Schmitz Jr., 7850 Anselmo Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70810; E-mail: william.schmitzjr@va.gov

Abstract

There are twice as many suicides as homicides in the United States, and the suicide rate is rising. Suicides increased 12% between 1999 and 2009. Mental health professionals often treat suicidal patients, and suicide occurs even among patients who are seeking treatment or are currently in treatment. Despite these facts, training of most mental health professionals in the assessment and management of suicidal patients is surprisingly limited. The extant literature regarding the frequency with which mental health professionals encounter suicidal patients is reviewed, as is the prevalence of training in suicide risk assessment and management. Most importantly, six recommendations are made to address the longstanding insufficient training within the mental health professions regarding the assessment and management of suicidal patients.

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