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Suicide Awareness


Education is a key component to assisting patients who are at risk for suicide. The more you know the more support you can provide patients. This section covers education opportunities within and outside of National Jewish Health.  You will also find charting examples covering the key factors to include when documenting patient interactions surrounding suicide.



Assessment for suicide can be done by all staff at National Jewish Health and should be completed when concern is present for a patient’s safety.  All inpatients at National Jewish Health are screened using the ASQ and PHQ9 Modified for Adolescents and to complete an assessment. Positive results in assessments require an evaluation be completed by a qualified staff member.

Basic components of an assessment include asking;

  • Have you wished you were dead?

  • Have you had any thoughts of killing yourself? Or Are you having thoughts of suicide?

  • Do you have a plan?



Evaluations are done at National Jewish Health by qualified individuals* and are used to determine the level of care needed for a patient who presents with concerns of suicidal ideations. Using the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale Screen Version is required when evaluating an inpatient and recommended when working with outpatients.

*Qualified individuals include:

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker

  • Physicians

  • Psychologist


Suicidal Ideations or Thoughts

Thoughts about how to kill oneself. They can range from a detailed plan to a fleeting consideration.


  • “I am going to take this whole bottle of pills to end it.”

  • “I am going to shoot myself.”


Passive Death Wishes 

Thinking about dying or a desire to be dead, without actively making a specific plan to carry out those thoughts.


  • “Life is not worth living, nothing ever changes”

  • “I bet if I died today you would not come to my funeral”


Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself

  • Seeking access to means

  • Talking, writing, or posting on social media about death, dying, or suicide

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Feeling worthless or a lack of purpose

  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities

  • Feeling trapped

  • Increasing alcohol or drug use

  • Withdrawing from family, friends, or society

  • Demonstrating rage and anger to seeking revenge

  • Appearing agitated

  • Having a dramatic change in mood


Risk Factors for Suicide

  • History of suicide attempt

  • Mental Health and/or Depression diagnosis

  • Alcohol or drug abuse 

  • Family history of a mental health diagnosis

  • Family history of alcohol or drug abuse  

  • History of suicide in family

  • Domestic/Child Abuse, including physical or sexual abuse

  • Having guns or other firearms in the home

  • Being incarcerated (prison or jail)

  • Exposed to another's suicidal behavior or death (including family member, peer, or media figure)

  • Chronic or terminal medical diagnosis

  • Being between the ages of 15 and 24 years or over age 60

  • Identifies risk factors/warning signs of suicide

  • Basic communication strategies if you suspect or know someone is suicidal?