Assessment of suicide ideation, risk of suicide and self harm


In this telephone interview, Dr Matthew Nock discusses the clinical assessment of suicide ideation and behaviour, and raises some of the problems faced by clinicians in this challenging field. He discusses in detail the development of a test known as the implicit association test which may be used in the future to help measure suicide risk without the need to rely on a patient’s self report. Talking about the common mistakes made by clinicians during clinical interview he also flags the importance of understanding a patient’s motivation and the need for clinicians to continue to develop predictive skills in assessing what is otherwise considered relatively unpredictable behaviour.


Date published: 12 January 2009

Audio running time: 18 minutes

Credits: 0.5


Learning outcomes:


By the end of this podcast we hope you will:


  • understand some of the challenges faced by clinicians when trying to assess suicide ideation and risk of self harm


  • be aware of those aspects of self report that are more helpful in predicting suicidal behaviour as well as some of the problems


  • be familiar with the implicit association test which may be available in a few years to assess how someone thinks about suicide that does not rely on verbal self report


  • be aware of the common mistakes that clinicians make in a clinical interview and what they can do most to improve their performance


  • appreciate the full value of trying to understand a patient’s motivation  


  • understand the need for clinicians to continue to develop predictive skills over what is considered relatively unpredictable behaviour.


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Please note: This podcast was recorded in 2009. Please be aware that some of the material covered and/or guidance may have changed.


© 2021 Royal College of Psychiatrists