Therapist smiling with client

Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk: Core Competencies for Health and Behavioral Health Professionals Working in Outpatient Settings

Over 47,000 people died by suicide in the U.S. each year. Outpatient mental health professionals play a critical role in the identification, assessment, and long-term management of suicide risk among their clients. 

The AMSR for Health and Behavioral Health Professionals Working in Outpatient Settings (AMSR-Outpatient) curriculum develops skills in the recognition, assessment, and management of suicide risk and the delivery of effective suicide-specific interventions.

“Educating the mental health workforce to assess and respond to suicide risk is essential to the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, and to efforts such as the Zero Suicide initiative for providing ‘suicide safer’ care systems.”

Pisani, A.R., Murrie, D.C., Silverman, M.M. (2016). Reformulating Suicide Risk Formulation: From Prediction To Prevention. 

Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk

Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR) teaches best practices recommended by the nation's leading experts in the research and delivery of suicide care.

We offer two AMSR workshops and one course based on the AMSR-Outpatient curriculum. These trainings are for behavioral health clinicians working in outpatient settings who conduct suicide risk assessments, primarily those with a master’s degree or above.

ASMR-Outpatient Training
AMSR-Outpatient Training of Trainers
AMSR-Outpatient Course

Suicide and People Receiving Mental Health Care

Suicidal behavior is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. Each year, over 45,000 people die by suicide [1] and hundreds of thousands are seen in hospital emergency departments for suicide attempts [2]. And the risk of suicide attempt or death is highest within 30 days of discharge from an emergency department or inpatient psychiatric unit. [3]

Despite the acute needs of patients with elevated suicide risk and their frequency of contact with health and behavioral healthcare professionals [4], many providers—psychologists, social workers, and other mental health counselors—are inadequately trained to assess, treat, and manage suicide risk in their patients [5]. According to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, “Many clinical training programs do not fully prepare healthcare professionals to provide suicide care.” [6]

Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk fills that training gap by teaching the core competencies that meet suicide care standards established by national organizations including The Joint Commission, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Veterans Administration, and others.

Behavioral healthcare professionals working in inpatient settings can help patients with elevated suicide risk by using the suicide risk identification, assessment, and management competencies taught in the AMSR-Inpatient training. Delivering best practices in suicide care to patients with elevated suicide risk during inpatient treatment can offset the high-risk period they may experience post-discharge. [7]

AMSR-Outpatient Training

AMSR-Outpatient training provides participants with the knowledge and skills they need to address suicide risk and behaviors in outpatient setting clients. Participants will have the opportunity to increase their knowledge and apply practical skills in the five areas of AMSR competency. 

Learn More

AMSR-Outpatient training follows national guidelines for caring for people with suicide risk.


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019). 2017, United States Suicide Injury Deaths and Rates per 100,000. WISQARS.  National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, NCHS Vital Statistics System for numbers of deaths. Bureau of Census for population estimates.

[2] Rui P, Kang K, Ashman JJ. (2016). National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2016 emergency department summary tables. Table 16. Emergency department visits related to injury, poisoning, and adverse effect, by intent: United States, 2016.

[3] Schmitz, W. M., Jr, Allen, M. H., Feldman, B. N., Gutin, N. J., Jahn, D. R., Kleespies, P. M., . . . Simpson, S. (2012). Preventing suicide through improved training in suicide risk assessment and care: An American Association of Suicidology Task Force report addressing serious gaps in U.S. mental health training. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 42(3), 292–304.

AMSR Direct Care Outpatient

This training is complemented by the 3.5-hour version of AMSR for Direct Care Staff in Outpatient Settings, which helps treatment teams of clinicians and direct care staff speak the same risk assessment and management language to provide consistent, effective care organization-wide.

AMSR-Direct Care Outpatient Curriculum

“For those who experience suicidal crises and receive acute care interventions in hospitals and Emergency Rooms, suicide risk does not end at the moment of discharge. Rather, their elevated risk continues or is easily rekindled in the days and weeks that follow, leading to heightened rates of suicide during this post-acute care period.”

David Knesper, Author, Continuity of Care for Suicide Prevention and Research