Suicide Awareness and Prevention, 2nd Edition


About the Course  
Suicide is a global health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2021a) reports that over 700,000 people die by suicide every year.  In 2020, 45,979 suicide deaths were reported in the United States and is the twelfth leading cause of death (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention [AFSP], 2022a). It is further estimated that there were 1,200,000 suicide attempts in the United States in 2020 (AFSP, 2022a).  Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2022) indicates that suicide risk can occur at any point throughout the lifespan.
The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of information related to suicide, as well as empirical evidence related to causal theories, risk factors, prevention, and treatment considerations. Most importantly, the course will link the existing literature to case vignettes and practical applications for occupational therapy practitioners. This intermediate-level course will provide occupational therapy practitioners with the information necessary to identify those at risk and those demonstrating symptoms associated with suicidal precursors and will help to describe the role of occupational therapy practitioners working across practice settings including approaches to assessment, intervention, and referral.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the risk factors that are associated with suicide.
  • Recite the symptoms/warning signs associated with suicide.
  • Compare and contrast appropriate evaluation and intervention approaches in addressing suicidality.
  • Relate concepts of holistic approaches in occupational therapy in addressing suicide risk.
  • Differentiate the role of occupational therapy from other disciplines.
  • Recommend various ‘avenues’ of occupational therapy in suicide awareness/prevention.

About the Authors
Sharon D. Novalis, PhD, OTR/L, is an associate  professor in the Occupational Therapy Programs at Chatham University. Dr. Novalis has over 30  years of experience in the field of occupational therapy. She has worked in practice and leadership capacities, both as an occupational therapy assistant and as an occupational therapist. Dr. Novalis has presented at state conferences and local professional association meetings on the topics of suicide awareness, suicide prevention, and the role of occupational therapy. She has several scholarly works, including a continuing education article, on the topic of the role of occupational therapy in suicide awareness and working with survivors, which was published by the American Occupational Therapy Association. Dr. Novalis is a member of the Chatham University Mental Health Task Force, which, in part, has been responsible for the provision of educational materials to faculty on the topic of suicide awareness and prevention. Dr. Novalis has been invited to present the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention material to several university psychology classes and has also co-presented on this topic to a university-wide audience. Dr. Novalis is an active volunteer member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She has been the co-chair for the Out of the Darkness Campus at Chatham University, establishing the first walk in 2017. Dr. Novalis is a co-advisor of the Chatham University American Foundation for Suicide Prevention student organization which was established in 2022.   She has served as facilitator of a process group at the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day in Pittsburgh, 2017 and as a guest presenter in 2018. She continues her participation as a volunteer with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in support of community awareness events and educational endeavors.  Dr. Novalis is the recipient of the 2022 Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association Occupational Therapist Award of Recognition primarily due to her work related to the role of occupational therapy in suicide awareness/reduction.  

Deanna Hamilton, PhD, is an associate professor of graduate psychology at Chatham University where she has been a faculty member since 2006. Dr. Hamilton has taught a variety of courses at Chatham including developmental psychology, psychopathology, positive psychology, ethics and professional development, and supervision. Dr. Hamilton earned her doctoral degree in clinical/developmental psychology from Bryn Mawr College in 2005. She completed her doctoral internship at the University of Pittsburgh Counseling Center and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Duquesne University Counseling Center. Dr. Hamilton has published research in the areas of positive psychology and well-being, and self-efficacy among graduate student trainees, and is co-author of the book Girls’ Identities and Experiences of Oppression in Schools: Resilience, Resistance, and Transformation. Dr. Hamilton has collaborated with colleagues at Chatham University and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on suicide awareness and prevention initiatives across the University.

How to Receive Credit  

  • Read the entire course online or in print which requires a 2 hour commitment of time. 
  • Complete a mandatory test (a passing score of 75% is required). Test questions link content to learning objectives as a method to enhance individualized learning and material retention.
  • Provide required personal and payment information.
  • Complete the mandatory course evaluation.
  • Print your Certificate of Completion.
  • Resolution of Conflict of Interest* 

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The information provided in this activity is for continuing education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a healthcare provider relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient’s medical condition. 
©2023: All Rights Reserved. Materials may not be reproduced without the expressed written permission or consent of Colibri Healthcare, LLC. The materials presented in this course are meant to provide the consumer with general information on the topics covered. The information provided was prepared by professionals with practical knowledge of the areas covered. It is not meant to provide medical, legal, or professional advice. Colibri Healthcare, LLC recommends that you consult a medical, legal, or professional services expert licensed in your state. Colibri Healthcare, LLC has made all reasonable efforts to ensure that all content provided in this course is accurate and up to date at the time of printing but does not represent or warrant that it will apply to your situation nor circumstances and assumes no liability from reliance on these materials. Quotes are collected from customer feedback surveys. The models are intended to be representative and not actual customers. 

Accreditations and Approvals
Colibri Healthcare, LLC is an AOTA Approved Provider of professional development (Provider #9118). The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA or indicate AOTA approval of a certification or other professional recognition.