Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 1157-1180

Managing Suicidality

  • Kelly C. CukrowiczAffiliated withTexas Tech University
  • , Phillip N. SmithAffiliated withTexas Tech University
  • , Erin F. SchlegelAffiliated withTexas Tech University


A high percentage of individuals who die by suicide are in treatment at the time of their death. This speaks to the importance of ensuring adequate training for mental health providers in the assessment and treatment of suicidal behavior. This chapter provides information on areas of competence that are essential for clinicians working with patients at risk for suicide. Specifically, this chapter provides guidelines for assessing suicide risk and ensuring patient safety, as well as data on factors that maintain suicidal behavior. An overview of the literature on empirically-based treatment of suicidal behavior is provided, as well as data on the mechanisms of action for these treatments. Importantly, this chapter provides an overview of the basic competencies of clinicians working with patients at risk for suicide and the steps necessary to move from basic competence to expert competence.