Whether Called Acute Suicidal Affective Disturbance or Suicide Crisis Syndrome, a Suicide-specific Diagnosis Would Enhance Clinical Care, Increase Patient Safety, and Mitigate Clinician Liability

J Psychiatr Pract. 2018 Jul;24(4):274-278. doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000315.


Separate research groups have independently argued the need for a suicide-specific diagnosis within the psychiatric diagnostic nomenclature. Although a suicide-specific diagnosis could possibly enhance clinical care and improve patient safety, some clinicians have expressed concerns regarding the legal risk of utilizing a suicide-specific diagnosis. In this column, the first of a 2-part series exploring the potential risks and benefits of a suicide-specific diagnosis, the authors draw from their decades of experience in clinical work, legal consulting, as well as the litigation of suicide and wrongful death lawsuits and contend that the bona fide use of a suicide-specific diagnosis would mitigate legal liability to clinicians.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / classification
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Suicide / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Suicide / prevention & control*