On-Demand: Building A Better Suicide Risk Assessment: The Nuts and Bolts of the Columbia Protocol

Presenter: Travis Rieder

Originally Presented: October 19, 2021


The Columbia Protocol (C-SSRS) (www.cssrs.columbia.edu) is now widely recognized as a gold-standard, innovative suicide risk screening tool. It has been implemented in many systems across the US and abroad with tremendous benefit– identification of people who would have otherwise been missed while redirecting scarce resources. Evaluation in hospital-based psychiatric emergency departments when it is not necessary is costly, sometimes traumatic, and may be less effective in routing people into ongoing care. This workshop will review the development of the C-SSRS and its administration, covering its items predictive of increased risk. Participants will learn about how to administer the full and screening versions of the tool, how to use the checklist of risk and protective factors, how to customize the tool and how to interpret results. Population-specific editions will also be reviewed (very young children, military, etc.).


Learning Objectives:

  1. Explain how screening with the C-SSRS can be used to identify at-risk individuals and identify steps taken to implement a comprehensive screening program that includes targeted and public health approaches to prevention.
  2. Describe how utilizing a systemic best practice measurement, the C-SSRS, to identify suicidal ideation and behavior results in improved identification and precision, which ultimately saves lives.
  3. Learn the types of suicidal ideation and the four behaviors that are predictive of imminent risk, how to administer the C-SSRS full and screener scales and list long and short term risk and protective factors.


About Travis Rieder:
Travis N. Rieder, PhD is a philosopher and bioethicist at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, where he directs the Master of Bioethics degree program. Dr. Rieder has written and spoken on many topics, but his work has focused in recent years on the ethical and policy issues raised by America’s opioid crisis. On that subject, he has written widely for both the popular and peer-reviewed literature, given a TED talk that has been viewed more than 2 million times, and has published a book with HarperCollins titled In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids.