Tool for Assessment of suicide risk found unreliable

This might seem to be a good study, but it isn’t. It concludes that the SADPERSONS scale for suicide risk assessment is not much good. However the end points for testing the sensitivity of the scale were hospitalization or acts of self harm and those are not good endpoints.

the SADPERSONS scale tool is intended to identify those who might be at risk for suicide–suicide gestures and all the other conduct that is characteristic of personality disorders may or may not be an endpoint against which to identify suicide risk.

Probably there is no reliable psych test for this area of risk assessment–completed suicides are done by people with a plan, a real plan, and will they reveal it to a inquiry by a provider?

But part of the problem of assessing for sensitivity and specificity is that there is acting out and then there is suicide –as in successful. We all know the two entities are quite different.

I would distinguish between the tight lipped older man with bad stresses in his life and the immature teenager–wouldn’t you? Which one is likely to be getting hospitalizations or make a suicide gestures like taking pills with rescue available or cutting the arms? Which one is more at risk for committing suicide with an effective, sudden and irreversible means like a gun?


3 responses to “Tool for Assessment of suicide risk found unreliable

  1. Any URL or other pointer to the story/report/study? Thanks

  2. That is a great point about the older man and the teenager. For some people any attention is better than nothing. People seeking attention will openly threaten to harm themselves and then enjoy what attention they get.

    In contrast the older person with a plan will tell you that everything is just fine and dandy while they plan. In one instance I was involved with the only reason the person was saved was because he shot himself through a lung and a neighbor called for an ambulance before he could bleed out.

    One concern I have is that in certain cases jails will improperly claim that a new inmate is suicidal to punish them for not cooperating. This has happened again in Maryland at the Carroll County Detention Center. A certain “Jane Doe” has chosen to remain silent and refuses to give a name address or Social Security Number. She was strapped to an anti-suicide chair for longer than allowed by procedures and then put in suicide watch isolation which meant that she could have no visitors or phone calls. This person is not suicidal, only stubborn and opinionated. Claiming possible suicide as an excuse to afflict someone is abusive.

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