Adolescent Suicide Risk Assessment


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


For information about how to access Adolescent Suicide Risk Assessment, contact Virginia Biddle.


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This online suicide risk assessment training module is geared to primary care providers and other clinicians, as well as students, who want to identify youth at risk for suicide in their practices and clinical locations. The program focuses on the assessment of background and subjective risk factors using the well-known HEADSS (Home, Education, Activities, Drug use and abuse, Sexual behavior, and Suicidality) interview instrument for psychosocial risk assessment. It is designed for those who need basic knowledge concerning suicide risk assessment. Specific topics include the following:

  • Importance of suicide risk assessment
  • Prevalence/epidemiology of suicide
  • National efforts for suicide prevention
  • Reasons why suicide becomes an option
  • Performing an adolescent assessment (background and subjective factors)
  • Levels of suicide risk
  • Referral
  • Treatment
  • Assessment tools
  • Family assessment

Review questions that users must answer are displayed periodically throughout the module. These and two pretest/post-test videotaped vignettes reinforce the content and help users assess their learning.

Program Objectives

After training, participants should be able to:

  1. Explain the role of clinicians in the prevention of suicide.
  2. Assess adolescents for suicide risk by inquiring about background risk factors (using HEADSS) and subjective risk factors.
  3. Refer adolescents at risk for suicide for the appropriate level of care.
  4. Identify possible treatments and how to measure success.
  5. Assess family needs, strengths, resource, and supports. 

Implementation Essentials

Practitioners who take the Adolescent Suicide Risk Assessment training should familiarize themselves with their agency’s protocols for managing patients who may be at risk for suicide

2012 NSSP Objectives Addressed: 

Objective 7.2: Provide training to mental health and substance abuse providers on the recognition, assessment, and management of at-risk behavior, and the delivery of effective clinical care for people with suicide risk.