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November 2022

The suicide prevention contract: Clinical, legal, and risk management issues

Journal/Book: J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1999; 27: One Regency Dr, PO Box 30, Bloomfield, CT 06002, USA. Amer Acad Psychiatry Law. 445-450.

Abstract: In the managed care era, mental health professionals increasingly rely upon suicide prevention contracts in the management of patients at suicide risk. Although asking a patient if he or she is suicidal and obtaining a written or oral contract against suicide can be useful, these measures by themselves are insufficient. ''No harm'' contracts cannot take the place of formal suicide risk assessments. Obtaining a suicide prevention contract from the patient tends to be an event whereas suicide risk assessment is a process. The suicide prevention contract is not a legal document that will exculpate the clinician from malpractice liability if the patient commits suicide. The contract against self-harm is only as good as the underlying soundness of the therapeutic alliance. The risks and benefits of suicide prevention contracts must be clearly understood.

Note: Article Simon RI, 7921-D Glenbrook Rd, Bethesda,MD 20814 USA


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