How Clinicians Understand Passive Suicidal Ideation in Suicide Risk Assessment

Emilie Healey Picard, Fordham University


Self-reported suicidal ideation is often relied upon by clinicians who are faced with the task of assessing for suicide risk. This self-report often is the gateway into a more in-depth suicide assessment. Clinicians often view that the more specific a suicide plan is, the higher risk the patient is for suicide. However, many suicides go unreported, and many go unplanned. Other more nuanced risks for suicide, such as anhedonia and a feeling of being a burden to others, may not lead to the same level of attention. This study sought to understand how clinicians assess suicide risk, specifically in those patients who do not express overt suicidal thoughts or plans. Respondents were 91 psychiatric crisis clinicians who have conducted a suicide risk screening in the previous six months. Participants were given a series of vignettes which systematically varied nine variables related to suicide risk. Clinicians were asked to rate suicide risk in the next 30 days and 2 years. Results indicated that clinicians took into consideration passive suicidal ideation as a whole when evaluating risk, and also considered its individual components (anhedonia, hopelessness, burdensomeness, and desire to die). Clinicians rated risk at 2-years as lower than risk at 30-days consistently across vignettes. This indicates that clinicians understand the influence of passive suicidal ideation on suicide risk, but also perceive suicide risk to decrease over time.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Picard, Emilie Healey, "How Clinicians Understand Passive Suicidal Ideation in Suicide Risk Assessment" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10619692.