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Dear Student Doctors,


Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Quick Facts

  • Over 800,000 people die by suicide per year globally (WHO). In 2007, there were 34,598 suicide deaths in the U.S. (CDC)
  • 40% have a history of self-harm or suicide attempt. However, the majority of those who attempt or self-harm do not die by suicide (89-95%).
  • Risk factors can be static (white males >60, family history, prior attempts, psychiatric disorder, personality traits, history of child abuse) or dynamic (access to means, substance abuse, psychosocial stressors, poor physical health, hopelessness).
  • Protective factors include social supports, children, religiosity/ spirituality/ purpose.

Suicide Prevention Goals at Promise Clinic

  • Screen for depression (Remember SIGECAPS: sad, lack of interest, guilt, low energy, poor concentration, decreased or increased appetite, psychomotor slowing, changes in sleep).
  • Ask about suicidal thoughts!  Inquiring about suicidal ideation will not “plant” the issue in a patient’s mind.
  • If a patient expresses suicidal ideation, ask about plan, means, preparatory steps taken, past attempts, access to guns/weapons, intent, imminence.
  • Consult with our volunteer RWJMS Psychiatry resident physicians available on-site. They are here to help!
  • Suicide risk varies over time.  Re-assess periodically.
  • Document risk level, any interventions initiated, and follow up!


  • If you need help, please reach out to senior members of your team, Psychiatry residents on-site, student managers, schedulers, or steering committee members as soon as possible.
  • The SAFE-T (Suicide Assessment Five-Step Evaluation and Triage) pocket card is available for free. It can be downloaded from the SPRC Website:
  • If you need help solving a problem please reach out to senior members of your team, student managers, schedulers or the appropriate steering committee/operations committee member as soon as possible.


If you are having trouble completing PCM visit requirements, please contact Nanaama O'Hene ( at least one week in advance so she can arrange for you to temporarily join a team. A physician preceptor must sign off on your off-site activity attendance record at each appointment if you are receiving PCM credit. A senior member of you student team may complete the end of year evaluation.