Last reviewed: February 2019
Last updated: June  2018



History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • previous suicide attempt
  • current suicide plan
  • access to lethal means
  • hx of psychiatric disease, including substance abuse
  • FHx of suicide or mental illness

Other diagnostic factors

  • chronic medical illness, disability, or disfigurement
  • significant psychosocial factors
  • personality and/or maladaptive traits

Risk factors

  • current suicidal plan
  • previous suicide or self-harm attempt
  • history of mental disorder, including substance abuse
  • availability of lethal means
  • history of childhood sexual or physical abuse
  • family history of death by suicide
  • male sex
  • prison inmate
  • family history of psychiatric illness
  • physical illness (especially of the central nervous system) and/or physical impairment
  • marital status (divorced, single, widowed)
  • professions/occupations (unemployed, self-employed, agricultural workers, medical and dental professionals)
  • psychosocial stressors

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • Tool for Assessment of Suicide Risk (TASR)
Full details

Treatment algorithm


Authors VIEW ALL

Stan Kutcher


Department of Psychiatry

Dalhousie University

Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health

IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University


WHO Collaborating Center for Mental Health Training and Policy

Dalhousie University


Nova Scotia



SK has received research grants from various foundations and national granting agencies (none from either the pharmaceutical nor psychotherapy industries) to support some of his academic work. He is employed by a university and hospital, and sees patients who sometimes present with a suicide attempt. He has also co-authored a textbook on suicide risk assessment and management, published in 2007 and the second edition in 2012.

Dr Stan Kutcher would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Magdalena Szumilas, a previous contributor to this monograph. MS is an author of a reference cited in this topic.

Peer reviewers VIEW ALL

Professor of Psychiatry and Mental Health

Departamento de Saude Mental

Faculdade de Ciencias Medicas

Universidade Nova de Lisboa




RG declares that he has no competing interests.

Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry

University of California

San Diego

Veterans Hospital

La Jolla



SR declares that he has no competing interests.

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