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Digital Seminar

Suicide Assessment and Intervention: Today's Top Challenges for Mental Health Professionals

Paul Brasler, MA, MSW, LCSW
2 Hours 44 Minutes
Sep 27, 2019
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Digital Seminar
Never expires.


What would you do?

“I woke up this morning and decided I didn’t have anything to live for. I told my dad that he would find me dead when he came home,” said Michelle, a 13-year-old girl sitting in a hospital bed. Her father reacted to his daughter’s declaration by bringing her to the hospital. I was asked to assess Michelle.

After some introductions and an explanation as to why I was there, Michelle agreed to speak with me by herself.

“So, was today the first time you’d had thoughts of killing yourself?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied, “I woke up tired of feeling this way, you know, depressed.”

“Have you thought about how you might try to kill yourself?”

"Not really; I figured I’d look around the house to see what I could use,” she stated.

What would you do next? Is this a person who needs to be hospitalized? How would you handle this situation differently if you were seeing Michelle in your office instead of a hospital?

Suicidal behaviours and suicidal ideation represent some of the most challenging things we deal with as clinicians.

Watch this recording to learn how to help your most vulnerable clients with the real-life skills and knowledge they don’t teach in graduate school.



Paul Brasler, MA, MSW, LCSW's Profile

Paul Brasler, MA, MSW, LCSW Related seminars and products

Paul Brasler, MA, MSW, LCSW, has been a social worker for 25 years. He is the Behavioral Health Addiction Specialist for Virginia Medicaid, where he conducts training and technical support for SUD treatment providers across Virginia. Prior to this, Paul was the head of Behavioral Health for Daily Planet Health Services, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Richmond, Virginia. In this role, Paul helped build a nationally recognized Medication Assisted Treatment Program.

Paul has extensive experience in working with people with substance use disorders, particularly adolescents and children. After finishing graduate school, Paul went to work at an adolescent residential treatment program, where he developed a treatment component for adolescents with substance use disorders. From 2003-2010, he was a senior clinician in the Chesterfield County Juvenile Drug Court and provided individual, family, adolescent group, and multifamily group therapies for adolescents with SUD.

Paul moved on to conduct psychiatric and substance use disorder evaluations (in adults and minors) in emergency departments in the Greater Richmond, Virginia area until 2017. Paul also served as adjunct faculty in the school of social work at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he developed a graduate course on substance use treatment.

Paul has been a PESI presenter since 2016, and he has presented classes on mental health emergencies, high-risk clients, and substance use disorder treatment across the country. His first book, High-risk Clients: Evidence-Based Assessment & Clinical Tools to Recognize and Effectively Respond to Mental Health Crises was published by PESI in 2019. His second book, on substance use disorder treatment, is currently in press and is due to be released by PESI in the fall of 2022.


Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Paul Brasler has employment relationships with the Department of Medical Assistance Services and the Bon Secours Mercy Health System. He is the President of Providence Consulting & Education, LLC. He receives a speaking honorarium and royalties from PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.

Non-financial: Paul Brasler has no relevant non-financial relationships.

Additional Info

Program Information

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


  1. Conduct a thorough suicide assessment that includes both risk and protective factors.
  2. Implement clinical techniques to support clients’ ability to self-regulate, problem solve and communicate their needs.
  3. Develop and monitor realistic safety plans that clients will participate in.
  4. Create accurate and comprehensive documentation of clinical crises to protect all parties involved and minimize liability risks.


Assessment: Your Comprehensive Guide to Identify Suicidal Risk
  • Suicide, ideation, plan, means and intent
  • Why do people kill themselves?
  • Risk and protective factors
  • How to identify implicit suicidal intent
  • Strategies for asking direct questions (even when it’s uncomfortable)
  • How to engage shut down, withdrawn or resistant clients
Suicide Intervention Strategies: Supporting Clients From “Passive” Ideation to Full-Blown Crisis
  • Psychological interventions
  • Problem solving
  • Emotional regulation
  • Communication
  • Pharmacology: Short and long term interventions
  • Why “no harm” contracts are a dangerous idea (and what to do instead)
  • When to break client confidentiality
  • How and when to involve loved ones/caregivers
  • Hospitalization: Why, when, how
    • Clinicians inside the ER: When to admit/planning for home
    • After the ER: Limiting the risk
  • Documentation: Protect your client, protect your license
Other Clinical Considerations
  • Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI)
  • Relationship between suicide, mental illness and trauma
  • Tips for managing clinician anxiety around suicidality

Target Audience

  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Counselors
  • Teachers
  • School Administrators
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Case Managers
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Other Mental Health Professionals

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