Psychology And Suicide Prevention

Joshua Shuman Psychologist

Psychologists play a crucial role in suicide prevention through a multifaceted approach that encompasses assessment, intervention, and ongoing support.

It is essential work. In 2021, there was one death by suicide every 11 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. (and the second leading cause for those between the ages of 10 and 34), and it does not discriminate across gender, age, and social status.

Joshua Shuman psychologist sheds light on the profound responsibility faced by mental health professionals. In the critical mission to prevent suicide, it is often these dedicated professionals who bear the weight of this challenge.

Navigating the intricate web of factors that lead to suicidal thoughts and actions requires a deep understanding, and many mental health professionals are equipped not only to discern underlying causes and risks but also to administer tailored, highly effective interventions.

A Pivotal Role

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the US. In 2021, there were an estimated 1.70 million suicide attempts.

By combining their expertise in mental health with empathy and a deep understanding of human behavior, psychologists play a critical role in preventing suicide and promoting mental well-being. In addition to approaches such as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and other medical intervention methods, these specialists are part of the first line of defense against suicide.

Psychologists wield powerful tools in the battle against self-harm. Their expertise encompasses a range of vital strategies that make a tangible difference in saving lives. Here’s a closer look at how these dedicated professionals are at the forefront of suicide prevention.

Risk Assessment: Psychologists are trained to identify the risk factors associated with suicide, such as mental health disorders, substance abuse, previous suicide attempts, and family history of suicide. They conduct thorough assessments to gauge the level of risk and determine appropriate interventions.

Early Intervention: Psychologists are equipped to recognize signs of emotional distress and suicidal ideation early on. Through counseling and therapy, they provide individuals with a safe space to discuss their thoughts and feelings, allowing for timely intervention.

Treatment Planning: Psychologists develop personalized treatment plans for individuals at risk of suicide. These plans may involve individual therapy, group therapy, medication management, and other evidence-based interventions tailored to the person’s unique needs.

Crisis Intervention: Psychologists are often on the front lines of crisis response. They provide immediate support and interventions for individuals experiencing acute distress or who are in immediate danger. This may include connecting them with emergency services or establishing safety plans.

Collaboration with Other Professionals: Psychologists work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists, social workers, and medical doctors, to ensure comprehensive care for individuals at risk of suicide. This multidisciplinary approach addresses both the mental health and physical well-being of the individual.

Education and Awareness: Psychologists play a vital role in educating communities, families, and individuals about suicide prevention. They raise awareness about the warning signs of suicide and promote de-stigmatization of mental health issues, encouraging open conversations.

Postvention and Grief Support: In cases where suicide has occurred, psychologists provide support to bereaved families and communities. They help individuals navigate the complex emotions and challenges that arise after a suicide, facilitating the healing process.

Advocacy for Policy and Systemic Changes: Psychologists are often advocates for policies and systemic changes that promote mental health and suicide prevention. They work to improve access to mental health care, reduce stigma, and implement effective prevention strategies at a broader societal level.

Joshua Shuman Psychologist


Suicide prevention techniques depend on the specifics of a certain case.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs makes suicide prevention a top priority for the military community. Military veterans are at greater risk for mental health disorders and suicidal ideation or attempts.

The VA healthcare system and a range of veteran service organizations offer accessible support networks. Every VA medical center in the U.S. offers a dedicated suicide prevention coordinator that connects people with local suicide prevention services and counseling services.

Mental health professionals also rely on different forms of psychotherapies that have been shown to help those who attempt suicide. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps a patient focus on the thoughts that may lead to a suicide attempt and develop effective coping mechanisms.

Dialectical behavior therapy has been particularly helpful for those with existing mental health disorders by pinpointing when actions and feelings become overwhelming and giving someone a skillset to process trauma healthily.

Unwavering Support

In addition to working with family members and friends of a patient, psychologists often work with primary care physicians, various medical care specialists, and other therapists for a well-rounded approach to helping patients in the short and long term.

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