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Attempted suicide history


  • Wash hands
  • Introduce self
  • Ask Patient’s name, DOB and what they like to be called
  • Explain and obtain consent

The event – Before

  • Events leading up to suicide attempt
    • Life events
    • Depression
    • Planning (e.g. ‘How long was there between thinking of overdosing and doing it?’)
    • Suicide note/did they tell anybody?
    • Precautions taken to avoid being detected (e.g. locking doors, ensuring nobody would be around)

The event – During

  • Their intention – did they intend to commit suicide or was it a cry for help?
    • When and where
    • Alcohol/drug intoxication
    • Exactly how they did it
      • If overdose: what, how many, where they got them, what they thought would happen
      • If self-harm lacerations: where, quantity, depth, how they felt while doing it, what they thought would happen
    • How were they discovered and how did they get here? Who called for help?

The event – After

  • Feelings now
  • Angry/regretful?
  • Current mood

The Future

  • Protective factors
    • Any positive things or things they want to live for
    • What might stop them committing suicide?
  • Future feelings
    • How they feel about the future
    • e.g. ‘If you were to go home now, what would happen?’
    • If they’ve changed their mind, what changed?
    • Are they going back to the same situation?
  • Future plans
    • Any future suicidal plans
    • Any positive plans, e.g. find job, get married, holidays

Further Questions to Help Assess risk

  • Depression symptoms screen: core symptoms (low mood, anhedonia), biological (sleep, energy), future (hopelessness, suicidal thoughts)
  • Psychosis symptoms screen: auditory hallucinations, running commentary, delusions of thought/control/perception
  • Past medical history
    • Past medical history (including any psychiatric diagnoses)
    • Past suicide attempts/self harm (find out about the methods used and help sought)
  • Drug history
  • Family history of self-harm/suicide and psychiatric conditions
  • Social history
    • Drug/alcohol use
    • Social stresses (including financial)
    • Relationships and support network (family nearby?)
    • Jobs
    • Living situation (living alone?)
    • Hobbies

Suicide risk factors

  • Demographics
    • Male
    • Old or young
  • Current situation
    • Unemployed
    • Homeless
    • Depressed
    • Lack of social support
    • Significant life events
  • History
    • Chronic illness
    • Psychiatric disorder
    • Previous attempts
    • Alcohol/drug abuse

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  1. Attempted suicide
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