Assessing Suicide Risk and Trauma in School Settings

Topic: Education Issues
Words: 668 Pages: 2


Suicide is at an all-time high in this century, with even young children taking their own lives. During my practicum at Cross Roads Elementary School, the school counselling staff would have various instances of student complaints of probable self-harm and traumatic experiences. This worry may come from the student or a concerned friend, or it could potentially come from a teacher. Developing plans to assess suicidal students is crucial in implementing the Response to Intervention (RTI) which consists of the risk assessment procedure, trauma assessment, screening, diagnosing, and monitoring of the suicidal students.

The Process of risk assessment with integration of relevant examples

Risk assessment involves identifying triggers and warning signs which may insinuate the tendency to kill themselves. It is rooted in getting an in-depth analysis of the student, learning about their history, various triggers that cause them to have suicidal thoughts and their daily activities (Center for Substance Abuse, 2014). In Cross Roads Elementary School, the school used Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale to assess potentially suicidal students, which consisted of questions that required “yes” or “no” answers. The questions seek to know if the student has intentions of wishing they slept and did not wake up, killing themselves, how they would do it, any intentions of actualizing the thoughts and if they would do it (Lighthouse Project, 2016). Acknowledging the student’s thoughts and challenges would help assess their suicidal tendencies.

The procedure for trauma assessment and assessment of abuse with clear examples

Nonetheless, the plan involves procedures for trauma assessment using Support for Students Exposed to Trauma (SSET). SSET is delivered in a lesson plan format which involves having a sit-down with the students to learn and discuss their anxiety, nervousness, withdrawal symptoms and acting out in school (Velupillai et al., 2019). These behaviours depict a reflex from a past negative experience on which the counsellor bases the analysis. From my experience in elementary school, a student was able to express their emotional restlessness in which the counsellor followed through with the case only to find out that the child was dealing with a past traumatic experience. These support groups help in assessing trauma among students.

Assessments specific to a clinical context along with clear examples for use

Additionally, the assessments, such as Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, are used in clinical contexts, which aids in screening and diagnosing suicide intentions. In my experience, I used this risk assessment in school to assess the children, and it is the most viable procedure for assessing children’s mental health. Additionally, Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) is a widely used 21-part assessment for identifying assessment cases (Velupillai et al., 2019). The cases are then scored from “not at all”, “mild”, “moderate”, and “severe”, which help in assessing one’s trauma. From the assessment, one can validate that the student has a particular issue in which they get immediate assistance.

Having a risk and trauma assessment is essential, but it must be ethically and culturally appropriate. According to the Center for Substance Abuse, 50% of culturally and ethically different students cease counselling because of their conflicting resolutions (2014). For instance, in a traditional African setting, the father is the one that has a say, and asking a traumatized girl to stand up to her abusive father is unheard. Therefore, there is a need to engage the students and learn about the background before making conclusive plans after an assessment.

Suicide intentions can be assessed through various screenings. As it is a warring case, there is a need to assess one’s risk intentions and trauma assessment, which is a risk factor for suicide. During my internship at Cross Road Elementary School, I interacted with the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale for suicide risk assessment and Support for Students Exposed to Trauma for trauma assessment. Additionally, the Beck Anxiety Inventory was used, which checks for anxiety in clinical contexts. When diagnosing and monitoring one’s behaviour, it is important to understand the ethical and cultural diversity, and one’s plan should suit those differences.


Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014). Improving cultural competence.

The Lighthouse Project. (2016). A Unique Suicide Risk Assessment Tool. The Columbia. Web.

Velupillai, S., Hadlaczky, G., Baca-Garcia, E., Gorrell, G. M., Werbeloff, N., Nguyen, D.,… & Dutta, R. (2019). Risk assessment tools and data-driven approaches for predicting and preventing suicidal behaviour. Frontiers in psychiatry, 36.

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