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Tolerating Risk: Professional Judgment in Suicide Risk Assessment

Tolerating Risk: Professional Judgment in Suicide Risk Assessment As a leading cause of death among those suffering from mental health problems, suicide is an issue that challenges policy makers, organizations, and practitioners alike. One outcome has been the implementation of standardized decision-making tools, developed through actuarial methods and aimed at limiting risks inherent in professional judgments. However, despite legislative and policy attempts to standardize the outcomes of risk assessment, professional judgments in specific client scenarios remain highly divergent. This article presents an exploration of the practice-level implementation of policies related to suicide risk assessment and decision-making. Findings suggest that once a judgment regarding risk has been made, ultimately organizational dynamics and resource availability determine disposition. Although attempts to improve outcomes for suicidal clients should include ongoing professional development for practitioners, the findings point to the requirement for community-based and hospital-based services that provide the greatest range of options for addressing client needs and facilitating safety. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Service Review University of Chicago Press

Tolerating Risk: Professional Judgment in Suicide Risk Assessment

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Publisher
University of Chicago Press
Copyright
© 2022 The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0037-7961
eISSN
1537-5404
DOI
10.1086/718580
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

As a leading cause of death among those suffering from mental health problems, suicide is an issue that challenges policy makers, organizations, and practitioners alike. One outcome has been the implementation of standardized decision-making tools, developed through actuarial methods and aimed at limiting risks inherent in professional judgments. However, despite legislative and policy attempts to standardize the outcomes of risk assessment, professional judgments in specific client scenarios remain highly divergent. This article presents an exploration of the practice-level implementation of policies related to suicide risk assessment and decision-making. Findings suggest that once a judgment regarding risk has been made, ultimately organizational dynamics and resource availability determine disposition. Although attempts to improve outcomes for suicidal clients should include ongoing professional development for practitioners, the findings point to the requirement for community-based and hospital-based services that provide the greatest range of options for addressing client needs and facilitating safety.

Journal

Social Service ReviewUniversity of Chicago Press

Published: Mar 1, 2022

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