First Advisor

Rings, Jeffrey

Document Type


Date Created



Rates of suicide across the United States have been found to be increasingly prevalent and acute in recent years (Centers for Disease Control, 2018). To address this nationwide health crisis of suicidality, mental health clinicians are relied upon to prevent, assess, and intervene accordingly. Yet despite the ubiquitous nature of client suicidality, existing research has not yet examined how clinicians are experiencing working with such intense and acute risk for suicide. This qualitative phenomenological study sought to capture the descriptions of clinicians’ internal and external responses to assessing for and intervening with client suicidality in an effort to better understand the struggles and needs of these practitioners, as well as the lessons and guidance that they can offer from their direct experiences in this regard. Ultimately, one- to two-hour semi-structured interviews were completed with nine clinicians. The subsequent data were used to identify seven main themes: (a) belief in the benefits of viewing suicidality through a systemic lens, (b) concerns over the accuracy of client disclosures, (c) the role of fear in clinical decision-making, (d) the emotional and personal impacts of treating suicide risk, (e) the impact of training and experience, (f) the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and (g) essential sources of support for clinicians. Based on the findings of this study, implications were identified in the areas of future research directions, the need for more thorough clinical training in treating suicidality, and applications for current clinical practice.


290 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.