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Suicide Risk Assessment Toolkit

This Toolkit seeks to provide a high-level overview of what to consider when using suicide risk assessment tools, along with a non-exhaustive list of available tools and their characteristics. It is designed to be a quick, informative guide for healthcare workers and organizations interested in selecting and comparing such tools. The process of assessing suicide risk is complex. While assessment tools play an important role, they should be used to inform, not replace, clinical judgment.

Sponsored by: The Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Production of this Toolkit has been made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada.

Toolkit Methodology

Suicide risk assessment has been identified in Canada, and internationally, as a fundamental safety issue for healthcare organizations. A need to identify and understand suicide risk assessment tools related to patient safety has also been flagged. This Toolkit updates the list of available suicide risk assessment tools from the 2011 Suicide Risk Assessment Guide. That guide used a mixed methodological approach based on an environmental scan of the literature and interviews with experts representing different cultural, ethnic, geographic, demographic, health sector, and professional backgrounds. For more information on this approach, see Appendix A in the 2011 guide. In August 2020, an updated search of scientific and grey literature was performed to identify, review, and describe suicide risk assessment tools used across Canada and internationally in long-term care, primary care, home care, and acute care.

The results of this search were used to inform this Toolkit, which is divided into two main sections:

  • Suicide and defining suicide risk assessment
    • What are suicide risk assessment tools and how should they be used?
    • Suicide risk assessment tool applicability and considerations for selection
  • Suicide risk assessment tools and their characteristics
    • Table 1. Suicide Risk Assessment Tools and Their Characteristics – Clinician/Mental Health Professional Not Required for Administration
    • Table 2. Suicide Risk Assessment Tools and Their Characteristics – Clinician/Mental Health Professional Administered

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