suicide prevention

Suicide Assessment: Starting a Conversation


Are you thinking about suicide? Do you want to kill yourself? Several of the most respected trainings nationwide, including Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) by LivingWorks and Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) by Dr. David Jobes, are providing the skills to encourage professionals to start a conversation with a person at-risk of suicide. September is National Suicide Prevention Month! It’s time we talk about suicide, and not just in the month of September. 

Many health organizations are participating in the Zero Suicide Initiative and schools are developing protocols to support our youth as they pursue their education. Research continues to explore findings around trends in certain populations, such as our transgender individuals, Veterans, and those suffering from Anorexia, all possessing factors that may put them at a higher risk of suicide. How do we, as mental health or helping professionals, address the stigma to start a conversation to better understand suicide?

In support of professionals who are passionate about helping at-risk individuals, please allow me to introduce an interactive tool meant to engage a person at-risk in facilitating a conversation about their experience with the help of a trained professional. The Community Assessment and Coordination of Safety (CACS) is an interactive tool that supports mental health professionals and other community partners such as school staff, non-profits, caseworkers, and public safety to have the words and the tools to start a conversation on suicide. 


The Details

In using CACS, a helping professional can access standard suicide assessment questions including but not limited to risk factors, family history, and recent stressors. When a professional desires more information as to the purpose of a question or how to ask a clinical question within the risk assessment, CACS provides helpful hints, such as suggested questions you can ask to explore a particular component in more detail for the most accurate results. The assessment then uses an algorithm to determine a risk level and populates a list of resources throughout Colorado in order to identify appropriate referrals that could best help the person at risk.

In addition to using an algorithm, CACS provides an electronic, user-friendly platform to assess and explore a person’s experience, all while allowing the flow of supportive conversation with a person they can trust. CACS can take into account various information entered into the app to calculate a level of risk based on an algorithm that factors in current research trends on suicide.  Individuals found to be at high risk would be directed to resources such as hospitals, inpatient programs, or Crisis Walk-in Centers. Individuals found at moderate or low risk could explore current resources for mental health, substance use, community support, and wraparound services with filtering options of location, service, and age group served. 

Lastly, CACS allows the helping professional to complete a wellness safety plan with the person at risk, empowering them to identify facets of their life that they can track and address with positive coping skills or engagement within their communities. Research is pointing us to the power of communities, therefore it could be valuable to explore how communities can support or enhance our interactions in pursuit of personal wellness. 



Let us begin a conversation and demonstrate our willingness to speak of the challenges in order to support those that need it most. You can learn more about the Community Assessment and Coordination of Safety (CACS) at

If you are interested in a suicide assessment training, check out ASIST by LivingWorks at or CAMS Integrated Training at

If you are feeling suicidal and need immediate support, please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room. Trained professionals are available 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by calling 1-800-273-TALK.