How are suicide and homicide potential assessed during a mental status review?

Updated: Jul 26, 2021
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Inquiring into suicide potential is an absolute requirement. The more specific the ideas and plans for suicide, the greater the possibility of suicide. Those with plans to purchase a gun exhibit a clear danger.

In addition to suicide inquiry, the clinician must ask about homicidal potential. Aggression turned inward is suicide; aggression turned outward is homicide. Homicide needs to be inquired about for the following reasons:

  • It is part of a complete mental status examination

  • There is linkage between the homicide and suicide - For example, in adolescents, 2 of the 4 leading causes of violent death are homicide and suicide [102]

  • Although infrequent, homicide/murder and suicide are a reality [108]

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