One of the more frightening child and adolescent issues is suicide. Suicide is a tragic event and is the third leading cause of death among adolescents (Somers-Flanagan & Somers-Flanagan, 2007, p. 155). Assessing suicidal children and adolescents as well as those who self-mutilate can be very difficult for many clinicians, and it takes skill to assess these issues accurately. Clinicians must be able to differentiate between suicidality and self-mutilation in order to assess the problem and develop interventions effectively.

In most cases, suicide and self-mutilation (self-harm) assessments are conducted using clinical interviews. The most foundational principle in evaluating for self-harm is for the clinician to establish a positive working relationship with the child or adolescent. A valid assessment flows from a good working relationship because trust is established and communication is open. A good relationship does not negate the need to assess clinically the severity of the issue; therefore, clinicians must be skilled in assessing for self-harm.

For this Assignment, review the media program Mood Disorders and Self-Harm,and consider the differences between suicidality and self-mutilation. Also, consider why it is critical to assess these two conditions accurately. Also, review Suicide Assessment Procedures, Documentation, and Risk Factors (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2007, p. 179–180) and Child and Adolescent Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs located in this week’s resources. Think about the importance of the suicide assessment to determine suicide risk in conjunction with common risk factors and warning signs.

The Assignment (2–3 pages):

  • Analyze the standard components of an adolescent suicide assessment and explain the importance of each component in assessing for suicide risk and why. Make sure to support your analysis with evidence from the articles by Sommers-Flanagan and the Child and Adolescent Suicide Risk Factors Warning Signs.
  • Describe at least one component you might add or take away from the suicide assessment and explain why.
  • Explain two differences between suicidality and self-mutilation in terms of the severity of each issue. Then, explain how severity relates to possible intention of a child or adolescent presenting with suicidality or self-mutilation. Be specific and use the week’s resources and current literature to support your response.

Support your Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list for all resources, including those in the week’s resources for this course.

Required Readings

Bosmans, G., Poiana, N., Van Leeuwen, K., Dujardin, A., De Winter, S., Finet, C., … & Van de Walle, M. (2016). Attachment and depressive symptoms in middle childhood: The moderating role of skin conductance level variability. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 33(8), 1135-1148.

Greville, L. (2017). Children and families forum: Suicide prevention for children and adolescents. Social Work Today. Retrieved from

Pirruccello, L. M. (2010). Preventing adolescent suicide: A community takes action. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 48(5), 34–41.

As you review this article, focus on how a community takes action to prevent adolescent suicide.

Document: Child and Adolescent Counseling Cases: Mood Disorders and Self-Harm (PDF)
Select one case study from this document to complete this week’s Discussion.

Document: DSM-5 Bridge Document: Mood Disorders and Self-Harm (PDF)
Use this document to guide your understanding of mood disorders and self-harm for this week’s Discussion.

Stebbins, M. B., & Corcoran, J. (2016). Pediatric bipolar disorder: the child psychiatrist perspective. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 33(2), 115-122.

Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2007). Tough kids, cool counseling: User-friendly approaches with challenging youth (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Tough Kids, Cool Counseling: User-friendly Approaches with Challenging Youth, 2nd Edition by Sommers-Flanagan, J.; Sommers-Flanagan, R. Copyright 2007 by American Counseling Association. Reprinted by permission of American Counseling Association via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Checklist of General Suicide Assessment Procedures Table 8.1 (p. 179) (PDF)These documents will guide you as you think about suicide assessment to determine suicide risk in conjunction with common risk factors and warning signs.

Hallab, L., & Covic, T. (2010). Deliberate self-harm: The interplay between attachment and stress. Behaviour Change, 27(2), 93– 103.

As you review this article, focus on the relationship among attachment, mood, and self-harm and how this might inform your professional practice.

Van de Walle, M., Bijttebier, P., Braet, C., & Bosmans, G. (2016). Attachment anxiety and depressive symptoms in middle childhood: The role of repetitive thinking about negative affect and about mother. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 38(4), 615-630.

Document: Child and Adolescent Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs (Word document)
This document guides you through a checklist of warning signs and risk factors for children and adolescents that are at risk. Focus on how you might use this document to assist you in your assessments.

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014b). Child and adolescent counseling: Mood disorders and self-harm [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 21 minutes.

In this media program, Drs. John Sommers-Flanagan and Eliana Gil discuss their experiences when working with children and adolescents who demonstrate mood disorders and self-harm.