The standard of care in suicide risk assessment: An elusive concept

CNS Spectr. 2006 Jun;11(6):442-5. doi: 10.1017/s1092852900014656.


Suicide risk assessment is now a core competency requirement in the residency training of psychiatrists. The purpose of suicide risk assessment is to identify modifiable or treatable acute, high-risk suicide factors, and available protective factors that inform patient treatment and safety management. The standard of care varies according to state statutory definitions. Heretofore, most states adopted an average physician or "ordinarily employed standard." Currently, more states are adopting a "reasonable, prudent physician" standard. No single source or authority defines the standard of care for suicide risk assessment. Evidence-based psychiatry can inform clinicians' suicide risk assessments. Carefully documented risk assessments will assist the courts in evaluating clinicians' decision-making process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Patient Care / standards*
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide Prevention*