What is the role of a mental status review in the evaluation of suicide potential?

Updated: Jul 26, 2021
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Looking at the following patient characteristics, the mental status review is designed to focus on evaluating an individual's potential for committing suicide:

  • Appearance - In addition to noting the dress and hygiene of patients who are depressed (eg, disheveled, unkempt and unclean clothing), the clinician should assess these individuals for physical evidence of suicidal behavior, such as wrist lacerations and neck rope burns

  • Affect - One specific concern is a flat affect by the patient when describing his or her thoughts and plans of suicide and self-destructive behavior

  • Thoughts - Three types of thought changes represent areas for major focus and concern: (1) command hallucinations (usually auditory) telling the patient to kill himself or herself, (2) delusions about the benefits of suicide (eg, family will be better off), (3) an obsession with taking his or her own life

  • Homicidal potential

  • Judgment, insight, and intellect

  • Orientation and memory - The focus of this part of the mental status review is to determine if the person is delirious or has dementia

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