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Responding Ethically and Effectively to Clients at Risk for Suicide
Responding Ethically and Effectively to Clients at Risk for Suicide
Responding Ethically and Effectively to Clients at Risk for Suicide

Responding Ethically and Effectively to Clients at Risk for Suicide

Dr. Derek Truscott, Dr. Jonathan Dubue

Professionals: $60.00 CAD +tax
Students: $48.00 CAD +tax


On November 3rd 2023, Drs. Derek Truscott and Jonathan Dubue delivered a 90-minute ethics webinar on how to work with clients at risk for suicide in an ethical and effective manner. This on-demand workshop is a recording of that presentation.

Workshop Outline

Clinicians face few situations that give rise to as much concern as a client at risk for suicide. All of us deal with client suicidality on a regular basis and one in four will lose a client to suicide at some point during our careers. The belief that we have a responsibility to prevent suicide has historically been the norm, as evidenced by the fact that ending one’s own life was for a very long time a criminal offence in most societies—hence the expression ‘committing suicide’. Many professionals are surprised to learn that our ethical and legal standards do not require us to intervene in every instance to prevent someone from killing themselves. Also common are misunderstandings about the proper role of suicide risk assessments when responding to our clients’ suicidality. 

In this webinar we will discuss working with clients at risk for suicide. Topics covered will include the frequency of suicide ideation and rates of suicide among clients seeking help, the limitations of suicide risk assessment, proven methods for responding effectively to suicide, and the ethical, legal, and professional expectations of psychologists vis-à-vis suicide. Clinicians will be shown how to respect the autonomy of their suicidal clients and to work collaboratively with them in order to respond both ethically and effectively.


Learning Objectives

At the end of the session, attendees will learn to:

  • Increase knowledge of ethical expectations of psychologists in the context of responding to clients at risk for suicide

  • Understand legal and professional expectations of psychologists in the context of responding to clients at risk for suicide

  • Understand the strengths and limitations of suicide risk assessment and their implications for responding to clients at risk for suicide

  • Promote decision-making skills that improve the effectiveness of responding to clients at risk for suicide

About the Presenter

Dr. Derek Truscott obtained registration as a psychologist in 1987, earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Windsor in 1989, was on the faculty of the Counselling Psychology program at the University of Alberta from 1997 to 2021, and is now Professor Emeritus. He has practiced in hospital, community, group home, rehabilitation, and private settings. Together with Dr. Kenneth Cook, he wrote the ground-breaking textbook Ethics for the Practice of Psychology in Canada (soon to be in its 4th edition). The book focuses on the major ethical issues faced by psychologists, including obtaining consent, protecting confidentiality, helping without harming, maintaining professional boundaries, providing services across cultures, being socially responsible, and conducting research.

Dr. Jonathan Dubue is a Clinical Supervisor in the training clinic for Counselling Psychology students at the University of Alberta. He completed his doctorate in the CPA-accredited Counselling Psychology program in 2023 at the University of Alberta and his pre-doctoral residency with the Edmonton Clinical Psychology Consortium. Dr. Dubue researches how we practice, learn, and experience suicide risk assessment and management, with a specific focus on integrating humanistic theory with suicide intervention. Through this work, he has facilitated over 20 suicide prevention workshops with healthcare authorities, academic institutions, and private practices. His research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Killam Trust.

Training Modalities

The workshop will include didactic content, case studies, Q&A, and polls.

Who should attend

This event is suitable for psychologists who work with clients experiencing suicidal ideation. It is also of relevance to any mental health clinicians working with people at risk of suicide. 

Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Bespoke Mental Health Canada is approved by the Canadian Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists. Bespoke Mental Health Canada maintains responsibility for the program. 
After viewing this workshop, participants have the option to complete an evaluation form and a workshop knowledge quiz in order to be eligible to receive a certificate confirming the number of credits awarded. This certificate will be sent via email.
Participants who completed this workshop are eligible to receive 1.5 CE credits


"Professionals: $60 CAD +tax
Students*: $48 CAD +tax
* Proof of student status may be required in order to qualify for a student rate."

Key References

Dubue, J. D., & Hanson, W. E. (2020). Psychologists’ experiences conducting suicide risk assessments: A phenomenological study. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 54(4), 819-845.

Ellis, T. E., & Patel, A. B. (2012). Client suicide: What now? Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19(2), 277-287.

Hawton, K., Lascelles, K., Pitman, A., Gilbert, S., & Silverman, M. (2022). Assessment of suicide risk in mental health practice: Shifting from prediction to therapeutic assessment, formulation, and risk management. The Lancet Psychiatry, S2215036622002322.

Jobes, D. A., Zhang, I., & Tyndal, T. (2021). Collaborative assessment and management of suicidality approach. In M. Pompili (Ed.), Suicide risk assessment and prevention (pp. 1-17). Springer.

Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Shaw, S. L. (2017). Suicide risk assessment: What psychologists should know. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48(2), 98–106.

Truscott, D. (2018). Ethics on the edge: Working with clients who are persistently suicidal. In M. M. Leach & E. R. Welfel (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of applied psychological ethics (pp. 134-153). Cambridge University Press.

Truscott, D. (2021). Ethical responsibilities when working with clients who are suicidal. College of Alberta Psychologists Monitor, 65, 14-16.

Truscott, D., & Crook, K. H. (2021). Ethics for the practice of psychology in Canada. University of Alberta Press.

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