Lifelines pp 169-179 | Cite as

The Role of the Social Worker

  • Helene Kress


The role of social work in the field of human service has been so varied that ambiguity about its range of expertise and responsibilities has resulted. The social worker’s role in the care of the suicidal patient illustrates this confusion. Each year approximately 27,940 people in the United States will complete suicide.1 At least eight times that number will attempt suicide. In the clinical social work subspecialties such as family service, community mental health, elderly day care, schools, and medical settings, social workers regularly encounter patients who consider suicide in response to stress. While the treatment of the physical aspects of self-destructive behaviors constitutes a medical emergency, the prevention and treatment of suicide confronts all clinicians who relate to another person on the basis of the question “What is troubling you?” The clinical issues related to suicide are the same for the social worker as for other mental health disciplines. However, various opportunities and pitfalls in dealing with the suicidal patient are unique to social work. This chapter will identify these factors.


Social Worker Private Practice Suicidal Patient Family Service Chronic Dialysis Patient 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helene Kress
    • 1
  1. 1.Framingham Union HospitalUSA

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