Survivor charities should have a Risk Management policy in place on how to assess suicidal risk and staff/practitioners should feel confident following it. The policy should include a risk assessment plan and risk action plan covering when to elevate concerns and how to do this.

Assessing the risk of suicide requires both empathy and directness. The following five areas are key to assessing risk: 

  1. Suicidal Intent
  2. Suicide Plans
  3. Background context – recent events / medical history
  4. Background factors – Those which increase risk including male gender, alcohol/drug use, previous attempts, history of poor mental health or social isolation. Protective factors include a close relationship with family member, friend or pet or they have an activity or job they enjoy
  5. What has helped them when they have previously been distressed

Key points:

It is important to ask directly whether someone has been thinking of taking their own life. This question should be normalised where possible e.g “Sometimes when people are struggling they may have thoughts of taking their own life? Is this something you have thought about?”

It is important to ask whether the person has made any specific plans to take their own life? If so, what are they? This is different from having suicidal ideas.


Section 3 Introduction


Crisis management