Suicide Risk Assessment of Adolescents CE Course Preview

Accreditation Information

Course Title: Suicide Risk Assessment of Adolescents

Release date: July, 2020

Expiration date: July, 2022

Estimated time to complete activity: 1 hour

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This activity is jointly provided by Medical Education Resources and Symptom Media.

Target Audience

Marriage and Family Therapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, substance abuse counselors, allied health professionals, and students, interns, and trainees of these disciplines who have professional contact with teen-agers.

Underlying Need for this Course

The purpose of this course is to provide nurses with the information necessary to perform a basic suicide risk assessment, upon initial contact and/or in an ongoing relationship, with adolescent patients.

  1. Clinicians require knowledge of risk and protective factors related to suicide in the adolescent population.
  2. Clinicians need competency in assessing suicide risk in adolescents.
  3. There is a lack of suicide-specific training for mental health professionals.
  4. Adolescents will not volunteer suicidal intent if they feel they are not taken seriously.
  5. Confidentiality limits need to be addressed with adolescents to help establish an environment of trust.

In the US, suicide continues to be the second leading cause death in the 10 to 24 year-old population.  The suicide rate in adolescents has been on the rise for the last decade.

Clinicians need to have information on basic suicide-related statistics and epidemiology.  Clinicians need information on ways to perform an independent risk assessment of self-directed violence upon initial contact and in ongoing relationship with adolescent patients.

  • Need to be knowledgeable in signs/symptoms/triggers/risk factors.
  • Need to be competent in assessing, interviewing, questioning which leads to providing a safe and understanding environment for disclosure.
  • Need to be able to be specific/direct in addressing and asking about suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and attempts.

Suicide is 10th leading cause of death, 3rd for individuals 15-24 years old.  Over 90% have significant mental health issues/diagnosis and/or substance abuse issues which are often undiagnosed, untreated, or both.  There are many mistakes a clinician can make during an interview /questioning which decrease the validity of the assessment or the accuracy /honesty of the responses.  90% of individuals who die by suicide communicated their intent.

  • Clinicians require knowledge of risk and protective factors related to suicide in the adolescent population.
  • Clinicians need competency in assessing suicide risk in adolescents.
  • There is a lack of suicide-specific training for mental health professionals.
  • Adolescents will not volunteer suicidal intent if they feel they are not taken seriously.
  • Confidentiality limits need to be addressed with adolescents to help establish an environment of trust.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, nurses should be able to:

  1. Identify risks and protective factors related to suicide.
  2. Review suicide-related statistics and epidemiology.
  3. Describe steps in process of assessing risk of suicide in adolescent patients.

Meet your instructors:
 Roberta Freeman, RN, MSN, CS
is a certified Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse with over 35 years of experience as a practitioner, educator, consultant and researcher in the Adolescent Unit at UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital.  She has collaborated in program evaluation, assessing interventions to improve care, conducted comprehensive evaluation/assessment of adolescents who have been referred for treatment in the Eating Disorder program, established and monitored patient care standards, provided group therapy for adolescents, collaborated with interdisciplinary treatment team in evaluating, diagnosing, and coordinating patient care throughout hospitalization and disposition planning, and much more. She is an active member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and Advanced Practice Nursing Association.

Linda Reynolds, RN, BAN is a retired nurse with over 38 years of experience in both adolescent and adult inpatient psychiatric nursing.  Linda served patients, staff and the public in many different capacities over the years and has held positions as a clinical nurse and supervisor at both Harvard and UCLA teaching hospitals.  At UCLA-NPH, Linda also served as the Nurse Educator for Mental Health in the psychiatric hospital as well as the medical centers in the UCLA Health Care Systems and was an Assistant Clinical Instructor and lecturer at the UCLA School of Nursing.  Linda has consulted with other medical centers in Southern California and have served as an Expert Witness and for the California Board of Registered Nursing and the US Department of Justice.

Course Agenda

This online course was designed for self-directed learning by active adult learners.  The content provides information based on clear, measurable learning objectives, yet allows the learner to navigate the material as desired.

The learner engagement strategy used in this online program is case study section with on-line video demonstration of assessment interviews and with subject matter quizzes.

Physician Credit

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of Medical Education Resources (MER) and Symptom Media. MER is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation

Medical Education Resources designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Nursing Credit

Medical Education Resources is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

This CE activity provides 1 contact hour of continuing nursing education.

Medical Education Resources is a provider of continuing nursing education by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider #CEP 12299, for 1 contact hour.

Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest

Medical Education Resources ensures balance, independence, objectivity, and scientific rigor in all our educational programs. In accordance with this policy, MER identifies conflicts of interest with its instructors, content managers, and other individuals who are in a position to control the content of an activity. Conflicts are resolved by MER to ensure that all scientific research referred to, reported, or used in a continuing education activity conforms to the generally accepted standards of experimental design, data collection, and analysis. MER is committed to providing its learners with high-quality activities that promote improvements or quality in health care and not the business interest of a commercial interest.

The faculty reported the following financial relationships with commercial interests whose products or services may be mentioned in this activity:

The content managers reported the following financial relationships with commercial interests whose products or services may be mentioned in this activity:

Method of Participation

There are no fees for participating in and receiving credit for this activity (or insert fee amount if applicable). During the period July, 2020 through July, 2022, participants must 1) read the learning objectives and faculty disclosures, 2) study the educational activity, 3) complete the posttest by recording the best answer to each question, 4) complete the evaluation.

A statement of credit will be issued only upon receipt of a completed activity evaluation form and a completed posttest with a score of 70% or better.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics (2008); Teen Suicide; Facts for Families, No. 10
  2. American Psychiatric Nurses Association Resource Center; Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Essential Competencies for Assessment and Management of Individuals at Risk for Suicide; February 2015
  3. Cash, Scottye J Ph.D.; Bridge, Jeffrey Ph.D.; Epidemiology of Youth Suicide and Suicidal Behavior; Current Opinions in Pediatrics; Oct. 2009, 21(5); 613-619
  4. Centers for Disease Control (2018); National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention; Suicide: Risk and Protective Factors
  5. Centers for Disease Control (2016) Data and Statistics (WISQARS); Fatal Injury Report for 2016
  6. Gray, Barbara P. PhD, RN, CPNP; Dihigo, Sharolyn K. DNP, CPNP-PC; Suicide Risk Assessment in High Risk Adolescents; The Nurse Practitioner, 40(9), 30- 37
  7. Kar, Nilamadhab; Mohanty, Manoj K.; Bastia, Binaya K.; Scale Assessment of Lethality of Suicide Attempt; Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2014 Oct – Dec; 56(4) 337- 343
  8. National Institute of Mental Health; ASQ Suicide Screening Information Sheet and Brief Suicide Safety Assessment 2017
  9. National Institute of Mental Health; Suicide Statistics (2018)
  10. Rudd, M.D., Berman, A.L., Joiner, T.E., Nock, M.K., Silverman, M.M., Mandrusiak,M., Witte, T. (2006); Warnings for Suicide: Theory, research and clinical applications; Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 36 (3), 255-262.
  11. Suicide Prevention Resource Center, Educational Development Center, Inc. (2009);
    Suicide Assessment Five Step Evaluation and Triage for Mental Health Professionals, L.A., Borowsky, I.W. (2011); Physician Education: A Promising Strategy to Prevent Adolescent Suicide; Academic Medicine, 83(3), 342-347
  12. Twenge, J. M., Cooper, A. B., Joiner, T. E., Duffy, M. E., & Binau, S. G. (2019). Age, period, and cohort trends in mood disorder indicators and suicide-related outcomes in a nationally representative dataset, 2005-2017. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 128, 185-199.


The content and views presented in this educational activity are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Medical Education Resources and/or Symptom Media. The authors have disclosed if there is any discussion of published and/or investigational uses of agents that are not indicated by the FDA in their presentations. Before prescribing any medicine, primary references and full prescribing information should be consulted. Any procedures, medications, or other courses of diagnosis or treatment discussed or suggested in this activity should not be used by clinicians without evaluation of their patient’s conditions and possible contraindications on dangers in use, review of any applicable manufacturer’s product information, and comparison with recommendations of other authorities. The information presented in this activity is not meant to serve as a guideline for patient management.

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