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Working With a Suicidal Client
Magen Wheeldon
Walden University

Application: Working With a Suicidal Client
Suicide is a significant risk factor in the development and progression of depression and other mental disorders. (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2010). In the past, suicide was attempted more often by the older population however it has been appearing more frequently in individuals in their late teens and early twenties (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley, 2010). Women are more likely to attempt suicide than men and individuals who have dealt with divorce and or other significant life challenges are at a higher risk for attempting suicide (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2010). While individuals attempt suicide at an alarming rate, the amount of successful attempts is much less; and men are to account for a large percentage of completed suicides (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2010). Mental health counselors are ethically responsible for the care and assessment of suicidal clients (Remley & Herlihy, 2010). Additionally, counselors must be able to identify the signs of suicide and should implement continuous risk assessment for the duration of a client’s treatment (Herlihy & Corey, 2006).

Managing the care of a client who is suicidal can be a difficult and stressful task for any counselor. However it is his or her main responsibility to ensure client safety; therefore, the appropriate steps must always be taken in order to avoid ethical and legal dilemmas as well as death of a client (Herlihy & Corey, 2006). One of the most important ways to determine whether or not a client is suicidal is by implementing a risk assessment at the start of the therapeutic process; such as the Suicide Probability Scale, which provides a complete picture of overall risk (Whiston, 2009). The initial session should entail an evaluation of the client’s mental health including thoughts and/or attempts of suicide (Whiston, 2009). It is often very difficult to know...
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