Massachusetts Medical Society: Suicide - Assessing Patients’ Safety and Physician Responsibilities

Suicide - Assessing Patients’ Safety and Physician Responsibilities

Suicide Assessing Patients’ Safety and Physician Responsibilities

Course Overview
As many as 50,000 people in the U.S. die each year by their own hand. Among those, approximately 75% had seen a physician within a year before their death—45% to 66% within the prior month. This course was developed to increase awareness in evaluating risk for suicide, assessing the patient’s safety, and recommendations for counseling and treatment options.  Areas of potential liability, strategies for legal risk management, and disclosure guidelines will also be discussed.


Christine Yu Moutier



Christine Yu Moutier, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Dr. Christine Yu Moutier knows the impact of suicide firsthand. After losing colleagues to suicide, she dedicated herself to fighting this leading cause of death. As a leader in the field of suicide prevention, Dr. Moutier joined AFSP as Chief Medical Officer in 2013, and it’s through her passion and commitment that we see a lasting impact via research, education and support to communities across the U.S. Her focus on health equity and culture transformation has been critical to advancing suicide prevention efforts. 

She has testified before the U.S. Congress and provided multiple Congressional briefings on suicide prevention. She has presented to the White House and at the National Academy of Sciences, she co-anchored CNN’s Emmy Award winning Finding Hope suicide prevention town hall, and has appeared as an expert in The New York TimesThe Washington PostTime magazine, The EconomistThe Atlantic, the BBC, CNN, NBC and other print and television outlets. 

Since earning her medical degree and training in psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, Moutier has been a practicing psychiatrist, professor of psychiatry, dean in the medical school, and medical director of the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit at the VA Medical Center in La Jolla, treating diverse patient populations from Asian refugees to veterans to corporate and academic leaders. Dr. Moutier has authored a clinical suicide prevention handbook which released in 2021, and numerous articles and book chapters for medical and general audiences. Most recently, she co-led a partnership effort with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), AFSP and NIMH to establish a new National Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention, being released in March 2022.

Intended Audience
This activity is designed for physicians, residents, other health care professionals and students in all health care professions.

Course Objectives

  • Describe the recommended steps for assessing a patient’s risk for suicide.
  • Determine how to respond to a patient’s disclosure of suicidal thoughts or other indications of suicide risk in ways that help the patient, help reduce suicide risk, and may increase the odds of the provider prevailing in any future malpractice litigation.
  • Explain why prevention steps are still effective and important to take even though predicting suicidal behavior is not possible on an individual level.
  • Restate why it is imperative to thoroughly document key relevant information pertaining to suicide risk assessment and steps taken.
    Consider options for clinical treatment planning, including when to refer to specialty care, when to hospitalize, and the preventive value of simply enhancing follow-up contact or communication.
  • Discern whether disclosure of a patient’s suicide risk to a third party is a violation of confidentiality.

Course Fees
Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) Physician Member: $40.00
MMS Resident/Student Member: Free
Non-Member Physician: $90.00
Non-Members Resident/Student: $20.00
Allied Health Professional/Other: $32.00

Format & Estimated Time to Complete: Text, 1 hour

Accreditation and Credit Information
Accreditation Statement
The Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

AMA Credit Designation Statement
The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this internet enduring material for a maximum of 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This activity meets the criteria for the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for risk management study. 

Approval Statement
Through the American Board of Medical Specialties (“ABMS”) ongoing commitment to increase access to practice relevant Continuing Certification Activities through the ABMS Continuing Certification Directory, this activity has met the requirements as a Lifelong Learning CME Activity (apply toward general CME requirement) for the following ABMS Member Boards: 

Allergy and Immunology
Colon and Rectal Surgery
Family Medicine
Medical Genetics and Genomics
Nuclear Medicine
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Plastic Surgery
Preventive Medicine
Psychiatry and Neurology
Thoracic Surgery

National Commission on Certification of Physicians Assistant (NCCPA)
Physician Assistants may claim a maximum of 1.00 Category 1 credit for completing this activity. NCCPA accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

Exam/Assessment: A score of 70% or higher is required to receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.   

Activity Term
Original Release Date: April 1, 2022
Review Date (s): N/A
Termination Date: April 1, 2025

System Requirements

Windows 10
Mac OSX 10.6 higher

Most modern browsers including:
IE 11+
Firefox 18.0+
Chrome latest version
Safari 12+

iOS devices beginning with OS version 10 or higher (includes, iPhone, ipad and iTouch devices)

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