The Practical Art of Suicide Assessment: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals and Substance Abuse Counselors

View This PDF

NB: This article is only available as a PDF.

From our regular book review column.

The title of this concise, carefully conceptualized, well written book conveys the author’s state of mind when confronted with that most serious, anxiety-provoking clinical situation: the evaluation of the suicidal patient. The author is both an experienced psychotherapist, talented in the art of the interview
of the suicidal patient, and a very practical clinician who has created a systematized approach to the assessment of suicidality. From the outset, the reader is aware that the author has great respect for the importance and difficulty of conducting the clinical interview that lies at the heart of the assessment of thepatient. Thus, it comes as no surprise that his previous book is entitled Psychiatric Interviewing: The Art of Understanding. His goal of assisting clinicians to become more comfortable with the topic of suicidality is achieved by directing attention to the “phenomenology of the inner world of the actively suicidal” patient. Based on the assumption that an inadequate database is the single factor most responsible for errors in the assessment of suicidality, Dr. Shea carefully instructs the reader on ways to approach the patient in a fashion that facilitates the patient’s revelation of his or her internal world. Without an understanding of that internal world, we cannot make effective decisions about clinical management.

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(9):683-684