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Health professional training in suicide assessment, treatment, and management

AFSP supports training requirements for primary care and mental health professionals in suicide assessment, treatment, and management.

About the issue

Health professionals regularly encounter individuals who are at risk for suicide. Despite the comorbidity or co-occurrence of mental health conditions and suicide, the vast majority of mental health professionals — a group that includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, licensed counselors, and psychiatric nurses — do not typically receive routine training in suicide assessment, treatment, or risk management. Primary care providers are also in a unique position to identify patients at risk of suicide and enact appropriate intervention methods.  Of people who die by suicide, almost half had contact with their primary care provider in the month before death, and three out of every four had contact with their primary care provider in the year before death.

Our policy position

AFSP recognizes the training of health professionals in suicide assessment, treatment, and management is a crucial step in preventing suicide. Currently, we are focused on supporting state-level legislation and regulatory efforts in order to reach the end goal for such training to be required in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

To learn more, read our Health Professional Training issue brief.

Additional resources

Learn about suicide prevention in the healthcare systems as part of AFSP’s Project 2025, our bold goal to reduce the national rate of suicide 20% by the year 2025.

Learn about the Zero Suicide initiative, which aims to create a health system that is smarter and safer for suicide care.

AFSP has partnered with SafeSide Prevention to increase the number of primary care professionals who are trained to assess, treat, and manage suicidal behavior. Contact your local AFSP Chapter to learn more about bringing this training to health practices in your area.

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