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Seminar Detail

Disarming the Suicidal Mind: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention

Monday, November 18, 2019 at 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

This event is not currently available for purchase.

For more information: Call (800) 844-8260
Course Description:

From Triage to Tomorrow
Suicide deaths have increased dramatically in recent years to 40,000 Americans annually, a leap that has been attributed variously to the Great Recession, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and access to guns and prescription pain killers – but what about medical error? Thirty-nine percent of suicide completers have been seen in an ER within the past year (many for mental health complaints and self-harm), while 59% of ER patients with injuries from deliberate self-harm do not receive a psychiatric assessment. Despite these trends, graduate training in assessment of imminent self-harm is often limited, offering little practical experience in counseling labs due to intake policies designed to avoid liability.

This course offers a revealing look inside the complex and rapidly expanding knowledge-base concerning the epidemiology of suicide and self-harm, while exploring the most effective measures you can take to save your patients’ lives. Learn to recognize risk factors associated with suicide attempts, as well as long-term and imminent warning signs, and accurately assess self-harm and suicide risk. Discover evidence-based interventions and explore the challenges of treatment across populations, including patients with addictive behaviors. Finally, we will deconstruct the emergency mental health protocols of today and identify common thinking errors leading to diagnostic and intervention mistakes that actually worsen crisis situations.
  1. Analyze the rapidly expanding knowledge-base concerning the epidemiology of suicide and self-harm as it relates to clinical practice.
  2. Recognize risk factors associated with suicide attempts, as well as long-term and imminent warning signs to improve client level of functioning.
  3. Articulate common assessment and clinical intervention errors that can be lethal.
  4. Identify ethical issues related to suicidal assessment and involuntary psychiatric commitment.
  5. Implement comprehensive assessment/intervention strategies to put to practical use in session.
  6. Overcome clinical challenges with suicidal clients to improve treatment outcomes.

  • Need for concern: statistics revealing the increasing trend in suicidal ideation, attempts, deaths
    • National data
    • State-specific data
    • Career risks for the professional counselor
  • Factors contributing to the failure of adequate assessment and triage
    • Inadequate training of physicians and professional counselors
    • Inadequate funding for mental health (despite numerous parity laws)
    • Shifting of the burden of assessment to emergency rooms
    • Poorly trained law enforcement officers initiating involuntary admissions
  • Risk factors
    • Demographic risk factors (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.)
    • Environmental risk factors (adverse childhood experiences)
    • Addictions
    • Mental illness
    • Economic risk factors (employment)
  • Warning signs
    • Feeling alone—isolated from family/friends
    • Feeling like a “burden” to others
    • Little or no fear of death
  • Red herrings
    • Suicide notes
    • Contingent suicide threats
    • Cutting
    • Pending divorce
  • Limitations of the research and potential risks
  • Mental status exam
  • Collateral information
  • Adults
    • Relative lethality of plans/attempt (Risk/Rescue Scale)
    • Hopelessness (Beck Hopelessness Inventory)
    • Reasons for living (Brief Reasons for Living Scale)
    • Adverse childhood experiences (A.C.E. Questionnaire)
  • Teens and children
    • Predictive/protective factors identified in the research
  • Special populations
    • Veterans
    • LGBT
  • Promising, novel methods for assessing risk
    • Implicit cognitions—measuring implicit associations with death and suicide
  • Our natural tendencies to err
    • Feelings of “rightness” are not reliable indicators
  • External factors contributing to errors
  • Internal factors contributing to errors
    • Self-care is critical
    • Two types of thinking (fast and slow)
    • Dangers of lazy, “fast” associative thinking
    • Substitution of easy-to-answer question for more difficult and complex question
  • Type 1 vs. Type 2 errors (legal liability and ethical issues)
    • Patient autonomy and self-determination
    • Confidentiality limits
  • Non-judgmental, empathic listening
  • Acknowledging reason for concern
  • Taking advantage of ambivalence
  • Evidence-based interventions to reduce subsequent suicide attempts
  • DSM-5® new definitions and terminology
    • Assess suicidal ideation at the start of every visit
    • DSM-5 level one screening questionnaire
    • Suicidal Behavior Disorder
    • Non-Suicidal Self-injury
  • Means restriction
  • Social support — supervision
  • Follow-up counseling
  • Exploring alternative responses should suicidal thoughts increase in frequency/intensity
Target Audience

  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Counselors
  • Teachers
  • School Administrators
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Case Managers
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


Timothy Spruill, MA, EdD, has conducted more than 3,500 emergency psychiatric assessments in one of Orlando’s busiest emergency departments as a consultant at Advent Health, where he is a founding faculty member of the emergency medicine residency program. Through his work with high-risk patients and his research in the area of suicidology, Dr. Spruill has developed an evidence-based approach to emergency mental health that urges progress far beyond the fragile gains of traditional (and contemporary) psychological triage.

His extensive experience conducting assessments and evaluations reaches back to his work in private psychiatric hospitals in the early 1980s. Dr. Spruill earned his Master’s degree in counseling psychology from George Mason University in 1977. After four years of teaching, he left for the applied world of a community psychiatric setting and pursued his Doctorate in counseling psychology at Western Michigan University. In addition to his ongoing consulting work, he returned to academia in 1991 to share his experience and extend his research capabilities. During his time with Andrews University and, subsequently, Advent Health, he has continued to collect data on suicide and conduct research in his chosen field of behavioral medicine. Since 2010, he has taught continuing education courses on the topics of suicide assessment, preventing medical errors, and violence. He has also presented his findings at numerous conferences, traveling as far as Cape Town, South Africa, to speak on suicide.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Timothy Spruill is assistant director of Behavioral Medicine, Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine at Florida Hospital. He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Timothy Spruill has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.
Credits listed below are for full attendance at the live event only. After attendance has been verified, pre-registered attendees will receive an email from PESI Customer Service with the subject line, “Evaluation and Certificate” within one week. This email will contain a link to complete the seminar evaluation and allow attendees to print, email or download a certificate of completion if in full attendance. For those in partial attendance (arrived late or left early), a letter of attendance is available through that link and an adjusted certificate of completion reflecting partial credit will be issued within 30 days (if your board allows). Please see “live seminar schedule” for full attendance start and end times. NOTE: Boards do not allow credit for breaks or lunch.

If your profession is not listed, please contact your licensing board to determine your continuing education requirements and check for reciprocal approval. For other credit inquiries not specified below, or questions on home study credit availability, please contact or 800-844-8260 before the event.

Materials that are included in this course may include interventions and modalities that are beyond the authorized practice of mental health professionals. As a licensed professional, you are responsible for reviewing the scope of practice, including activities that are defined in law as beyond the boundaries of practice in accordance with and in compliance with your professions standards.

The planning committee and staff who controlled the content of this activity have no relevant financial relationships to disclose. For speaker disclosures, please see speaker bios.

PESI, Inc. offers continuing education programs and products under the brand names PESI, PESI Healthcare, PESI Rehab and Psychotherapy Networker.

This seminar includes 2.0 hours of general OR state specific ethics instruction. If ethics is not specified within your licensing board’s approval statement below, please contact your board to determine the applicability and amount of ethics allowed.

Addiction Counselors
This course has been approved by PESI, Inc., as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for 6.0 CE in the Counseling Services skill group. NAADAC Provider #77553. PESI, Inc. is responsible for all aspects of their programming. Full attendance is required; no partial credit will be awarded for partial attendance.

This intermediate activity consists of 6.25 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Louisiana Counselors: CE credit is available. This program has been approved for 6.25 hours of continuing education by the Louisiana Counseling Association as authorized by the Louisiana Professional Counselor Licensing Board of Examiners. Full attendance is required. No partial contact hours will be issued for partial attendance.

This course is designed to qualify toward your professional development requirement. The program is 6.25 clock hours in length.

Marriage & Family Therapists
This activity consists of 380 minutes of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. You should save this course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Louisiana Marriage & Family Therapists: This program was approved by the Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy for 6.25 contact hours of continuing education credit. Full attendance is required. No partial contact hours will be issued for partial attendance.

Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Clinical Nurse Specialists
American Nurses Credentialing Center Logo
PESI, Inc. is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. Nurses in full attendance will earn 6.3 contact hours. Partial contact hours will be awarded for partial attendance.

Psychologists & Psychiatrists

PESI, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. PESI, Inc. designates this live activity for a maximum of 6.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The following state psychologist boards recognize activities sponsored by PESI, Inc. as an approved ACCME provider: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin. This activity consists of 6.0 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Certificates of attendance will be issued for you to submit to your state licensing board to recognize for continuing education credit.

Psychologists/School Psychologists: PESI, Inc. is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists to offer professional development for school psychologists. PESI maintains responsibility for the program. Provider #1140. PESI is offering this activity for 6.25 hours of continuing education credit. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance.

Social Workers
PESI, Inc., #1062, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. PESI, Inc. maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: January 27, 2020 - January 27, 2023. Social Workers completing this course receive 4.25 Clinical Practice and 2.0 Ethics continuing education credits. No more than 6.25 total CE hours may be awarded for this activity. Course Level: Intermediate. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance. A certificate of attendance will be awarded at the end of the program to social workers who complete the program evaluation.

Louisiana Social Workers: This program was approved for 6.25 (Clinical) contact hours of continuing education credit by the National Association of Social Workers, Louisiana Chapter as authorized by the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners.

Other Professions
This activity qualifies for 380 minutes of instructional content as required by many national, state and local licensing boards and professional organizations. Save your course outline and certificate of completion, and contact your own board or organization for specific requirements.

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