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The clinical interview as a method in suicide risk assessment 

The clinical interview as a method in suicide risk assessment
The clinical interview as a method in suicide risk assessment

Mark Schechter

and John T Maltsberger

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date: 21 January 2022

In this chapter we describe the role of the clinical interview in the assessment of suicide risk. In the course of the interview the clinician must endeavour to understand the patient’s crisis from both the ‘objective/descriptive’ and the ‘experiential’ perspectives, each of which we describe in detail. A focus on both of these perspectives is critical in the clinician’s coming to the best possible understanding of the patient. In addition to the role of the clinical interview in assessing risk, this critical clinical interaction is also the beginning of the treatment relationship and crisis intervention; thus it has a role in reducing risk as well. Finally, we comment briefly on the clinician’s conscious as well as unconscious responses to the patient, or ‘countertransference’, that can arise in the interview of potentially suicidal patients and influence the clinical assessment.

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