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Instruments for Suicide Risk Assessment

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Identifying individuals at risk of future suicide or suicide attempts is of clinical importance. However, suicidal behaviour is complex and difficult to predict. Instruments have been developed to facilitate the assessment of the risk of future suicidal acts.

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SBU Assessment

Presents a comprehensive, systematic assessment of available scientific evidence for effects on health, social welfare or disability. Full assessments include economic, social and ethical impact analyses. Assessment teams include professional practitioners and academics. Before publication the report is reviewed by external experts, and scientific conclusions approved by the SBU Board of Directors.


  • None of the included studies provided scientific evidence to support that any instrument had sufficient accuracy to predict future suicide with 80% sensitivity and 50% specificity.
  • There is strong evidence to support that the SAD PERSONS Scale has very low sensitivity. Most persons who make future suicidal acts are not identified.
  • Research is needed to clarify if assessment of suicide risk is enhanced when an instrument is used as a complement to the global clinical assessment. To date such research is lacking.
  • More research is needed to clarify the reliabil­ity of the commonly used instruments SUAS and C-SSRS.
  • As of yet there are no studies that assess whether the suicide item of the Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) can predict suicidal acts.

How to cite this report: SBU. Instruments for Suicide risk assessment. Stockholm: Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services (SBU); 2015. SBU report no 242 (in Swedish).

Published: Report no: 242

Project group


  • Bo Runesson (Chair)
  • Ingalill Jildevik Adamsson
  • Tobias Edbom
  • Anna Lindblad
  • Margda Waern


  • Jenny Odeberg (Project Director)
  • Elisabeth Gustafsson (Project Administrator)
  • Harald Gyllensvärd (Health Economist)
  • Hanna Olofsson (Information Specialist)
  • Agneta Pettersson (Assistant Project Director)

More on the subject

Scientific article

Runeson B, Odeberg J, Pettersson A, Edbom T, Jildevik Adamsson I, Waern M (2017). Instruments for the assessment of suicide risk: A systematic review evaluating the certainty of the evidence. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0180292.

Open Access

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