Risky Business: The art of assessing suicide risk and imminent danger - Nelson

17 September - 9:00am - 17 September 2019 - 4:30pm

Undertaking a suicide risk assessment is not without its complexities. One size does not fit all. This advanced level workshop provides the opportunity for participants to depth their knowledge and competency in the “art” of assessment and management of suicide through empathetic dialogue rather than a more traditional assessment interview process.  Participants will explore how factors such as nuance, context, culture, gender, socio-economic background, the quality and length of the therapeutic relationship impact on the process and the outcomes of an assessment.

This advanced level workshop builds on foundational or gatekeeper suicide prevention training and provides the opportunity for participants to depth their critical analysis of suicide risk factors and reflect on their practice in assessing risk. The content of the workshop investigates in detail the rationale and research that informs risk assessment items. This assists participants to more able to confidently and competently adapt the content and process of the assessment to best meet the context and the needs of the client, particularly in crisis situations.  It also facilitates greater depth of enquiry and does not constrain the practitioner to questions on the assessment sheet.

Recent findings by a coroner emphasised the importance of practitioners regularly updating their knowledge and competency in suicide risk assessment. This workshop addresses the concerns raised by the coroner.

Evaluation of this training indicated that the content of this course is both relevant and applicable to the work of mental health clinicians; addiction workers, primary health clinicians; mental health support workers; counsellors and therapists in private practice; school counsellors; frontline health, social service and community workers.

Topics covered:

Overview of the phenomenon of suicide and the 'suicidal moment'
What is meant by suicide risk? - Predisposing, Precipitating and Perpetuating Risk Factors
The art of suicide risk assessment: The critical role of the human interaction and empathetic listening
A holistic approach to assessment - taking into account physical, emotional, cultural, socio-economic, and spiritual factors or influencers,
Contextualising the suicidal thought or act
Asking the question to get the answer: Integrating assessment questions into a counselling/support context
Discussing suicide with a client and making sense of the suicidal narrative
Imminent danger? moving beyond assessing risk to assessing protective factors
Coping vs Safety Planning


Feedback from other participants

“I have learnt more about risk assessment in this workshop than I have learnt from all the suicide prevention workshops I have attended combined”   Counsellor

“Appreciated how you constantly drew upon the participants’ experience.  Will leave thinking / reflecting on my current practice”   School Counsellor

“Gave me new insights into something I do everyday”   Mental Health Clinician

“A must attend for counsellors”   Counsellor

An opportunity for a day of learning with internationally respected suicidologist, Barry Taylor

Barry has proven leadership over 30 years at local, national and international levels in using community initiatives and strength-based approaches to improve individual and community wellbeing and the prevention of suicide. His work has strongly focussed on suicide prevention, assessment and management of suicidality and postvention including leadership of New Zealand's first national response to youth suicide in the late 1980s.

Barry has lectured and mentored programmes, both nationally and internationally, and been appointed to numerous government advisory committees on mental wellbeing promotion and suicide prevention. In 2016 he was awarded the NSW Mental Health Commissioner's Community Champion Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to mental wellbeing and suicide prevention

In 1990 he receivied a Winston Churchill fellowship in 1990 which enabled him to work at Columbia Univesity in New York and to develop the first youth suiciide risk assessment tool for New Zealand.  As a Health Sociologist and Public Health practitioner, Barry has a long-term interest in the social and cultural determinants of suicide risk and imminent danger.

After a number of years overseas, Barry is living back in New Zealand and is passionate about building the knowledge base, competence and capability within our country to effectively respond to the unacceptably high rates of suicide in this country.