One critical step toward preventing death by suicide is promoting and performing thorough suicide risk assessments that fully evaluate the likelihood of a patient committing acts of self-harm or suicide by using any of the following tools and techniques:
Performing the Mental Status Examination (MSE), which describes the mental state of a patient through objective observations of the patient’s responses.
Identifying any history of physical or psychological trauma that may diminish the patient’s mental well-being.
Acknowledging all apparent risk factors, protective factors, and triggers that may cause feelings of distress.
Assessing whether patient exaggeration or minimization of symptoms/factors is affecting outcomes.
The last thing anyone suffering from mental distress wants is to be judged, cast out, or neglected. By providing their patients with an emotionally safe and supportive environment, psychiatric nurses can build trusting relationships that may improve the effectiveness of interventions, as patients may be more open to evidence-based discussions regarding their suicidal motivations, thoughts, and beliefs. Through these discussions, the psychiatric nurse can demonstrate the validity of the patient’s psychological pain and better convey hope that the patient has the power to eliminate that pain through treatment.