What is Suicide 101: Responding to Suicidal Ideation Among Survivors of Sexual Assault?
Suicide 101: Responding to Suicidal Ideation Among Survivors of Sexual Assault is a self-guided, online, educational module for Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Victim Advocates (VAs) to assist in their work when supporting survivors managing suicidal ideation.
Survivors of sexual assault are at greater risk for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. In their roles as sources of confidential support, SARCs and SAPR VAs are uniquely qualified to identify, assess, and support survivors of sexual assault who have suicidal ideation. This module explains how SARCs and SAPR VAs can leverage their existing skills, introduces tools for conducting a suicide risk assessment and identifying appropriate follow-up steps, as well as connecting survivors to long-term support resources for managing their suicidal ideation. The module can be completed anonymously, or SARCs and SAPR VAs looking for additional information on this topic can complete the course for one hour of D-SAACP credit.
For more information on the background and development of this module, download the Information Paper.
What can I expect when participating in the module?
The module consists of five self-paced units. You can decide when you want to access the program, and you may stop and resume at any time. The entire course will take approximately one hour to complete and features text, audio, and scenario questions.
Unit 1 – Connection (est. completion time 10 minutes)
Understanding the connection among sexual assault, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts is important for SARCs and SAPR VAs already supporting survivors in their community. This unit identifies best practice language for talking about suicide, describes the research on the connection among sexual assault, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts among Service members, and offers several facts to help you better understand suicide.
- Best practice language for talking about suicide
- Research on the connection
- Quick tips
Unit 2 – Existing Skills (est. completion time 15 minutes)
As a SARC or SAPR VA, you are uniquely qualified to identify, assess, and support survivors of sexual assault managing suicidal ideation. This unit identifies key features of your role that lend to your ability to support survivors dealing with suicide, as well as underlines the limits to confidentiality that may exist when supporting survivors managing suicidal ideation. Understanding risk and protective factors related to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, identifying invitations to discuss suicide, and asking direct questions are all important aspects of supporting a survivor who may be managing these feelings. The information presented is intended to help you better understand how and when to begin conversations about suicide with the survivors you serve.
- Skills you already have to support survivors
- Limits to confidentiality
- Risk and protective factors
- Invitations to discuss suicide
- Asking direct questions
- A scenario to help you practice the skills you’ve learned
Unit 3 – Risk Assessment (est. completion time 10 minutes)
The Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale is one of the most effective methods of asking direct questions about suicidal ideation in order to assess risk and can be used by helping professionals, as well as general Service members. This unit identifies the six questions on the Columbia Scale, what they assess, and what to look for in a response. In addition, you will learn about the appropriate follow-up steps to take based on the responses to the questions and associated risk level of the individual you are working with.
- Overview of the Columbia Scale
- Questions on the scale, what they assess, and what to notice in a response
- Appropriate steps to take
- A scenario to help you practice risk assessment
Unit 4 – Next Steps (est. completion time 10 minutes)
This unit discusses safety planning as it should occur whenever a survivor shares suicidal ideation. You will explore how to support a survivor as they create a suicide-specific safety plan, and how it can be used with survivors managing suicidal ideation.
- Safety planning
- A scenario to help you practice safety planning
Unit 5 – Resources (est. completion time 5 minutes)
This unit provides you with both military and non-military related resources to explore for ongoing support around suicidal ideation. The information provided is meant to help expand your pool of long-term resources for supporting survivors.
- Military resources
- Non-military resources
- Additional resources
- A scenario to help you practice resource sharing