Objective: The current paper aims to: (1) examine clinical practice guidelines in suicide prevention across fields, organizations, and clinical specialties and (2) inform emerging standards in clinical practice, research, and training.
Methods: The authors conducted a systematic literature review to identify clinical practice guidelines and resource documents in suicide prevention and risk management. The authors used PubMed, Google Scholar, and Google Search, and keywords included: clinical practice guideline, practice guideline, practice parameters, suicide, suicidality, suicidal behaviors, assessment, and management. To assess for commonalities, the authors reviewed guidelines and resource documents across 13 key content categories and assessed whether each document suggested validated assessment measures.
Results: The search generated 101 source documents, which included N = 10 clinical practice guidelines and N = 12 additional resource documents (e.g., non-formalized guidelines, tool-kits). All guidelines (100 %) provided detailed recommendations for the use of evidence-based risk factors and protective factors, 80 % provided brief (but not detailed) recommendations for the assessment of suicidal intent, and 70 % recommended risk management strategies. By comparison, only 30 % discussed standardization of risk-level categorizations and other content areas considered central to best practices in suicide prevention (e.g., restricting access to means, ethical considerations, confidentiality/legal issues, training, and postvention practices). Resource documents were largely consistent with these findings.
Conclusions: Current guidelines address similar aspects of suicide risk assessment and management, but significant discrepancies exist. A lack of consensus was evident in recommendations across core competencies, which may be improved by increased standardization in practice and training. Additional resources appear useful for supplemental use.