Joanna Davison & Bev Mackay

307 – Suicide risk assessment and simulation: What are the possibilities?

Suicide is a serious health issue and assessing for suicide risk is vital in addressing this. Although nurses are key frontline health professionals, they do not always feel confident in carrying out this assessment. This presentation will review the possibilities of simulation to prepare student nurses’ for suicide risk assessment.

Suicide rates are an indication of the mental health and well being of a country’s population. Among the OECD countries, New Zealand has the second highest youth suicide rate, and in 2016, figures in New Zealand were the highest since coronial records began.  One key strategy identified in suicide prevention is including suicide risk assessment within education curricula. For nurses, this would begin at the undergraduate level. Simulation is accepted as an effective pedagogical tool, therefore, the aim of this review was to explore the potential of simulation in preparing student nurses’ for suicide risk assessment.

The findings suggest that to varying degrees all simulation modalities have the potential to decrease anxiety, and increase confidence, knowledge and communication skills. However, the sense of realism provided by simulation using Standardised Patients (SPs) allows for more in-depth understanding into the person’s experiences, which is critical in the assessment of a person’s mental health needs and risk of suicide.


Suicide is preventable.  If you are interested in supporting the development of potentially life-saving assessment skills in your students’ suicide risk assessment, then this presentation will provide information on the effectiveness of different simulation modalities.

Key words: Simulation, student nurses, suicide risk assessment