Nursing Care Plan For Suicidal Ideation

Nursing Care Plan For Suicidal Ideation


Suicidal ideation is a critical mental health concern that requires vigilant assessment and comprehensive intervention to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals at risk. This nursing care plan aims to address the complex needs of individuals experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Suicidal ideation is not only a symptom of various mental health disorders but also a potential precursor to self-harm or suicide attempts. Therefore, a thorough and individualized nursing care plan is essential to identify risk factors, assess the severity of ideation, and implement strategies to mitigate the immediate risk while promoting long-term mental health and emotional stability. Through collaborative efforts involving the patient, healthcare professionals, and support systems, this care plan endeavors to provide compassionate, evidence-based care that prioritizes the safety and recovery of individuals struggling with suicidal ideation.

Nursing Assessment for Suicidal Ideation:

Assessing an individual for suicidal ideation is a delicate and crucial process that requires a comprehensive and empathetic approach. The nursing assessment for suicidal ideation involves gathering information about the patient’s mental health, emotional state, and risk factors associated with self-harm or suicide. The assessment aims to identify immediate threats, contributing factors, and protective factors that can inform a tailored care plan. The following components are integral to a thorough assessment:

  1. Establishing Rapport: Begin the assessment by establishing a trusting and non-judgmental relationship with the patient. Create an environment that encourages open communication, ensuring the patient feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings.
  2. Screening for Suicidal Ideation: Use standardized screening tools, such as the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) or the Suicide Ideation Questionnaire (SIQ), to systematically assess the presence and severity of suicidal thoughts.
  3. Gathering Patient History: Obtain a detailed psychiatric and medical history, including any previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, or mental health diagnoses. Explore the patient’s current stressors, life events, and coping mechanisms.
  4. Assessing Mental Status: Evaluate the patient’s mental status, including mood, affect, thought content, and cognitive function. Pay attention to signs of hopelessness, helplessness, agitation, or any indications of a decline in mental well-being.
  5. Exploring Risk Factors: Identify potential risk factors such as recent losses, financial stress, interpersonal conflicts, substance abuse, or a history of trauma. Assess for the presence of comorbid mental health disorders, as they may exacerbate the risk of suicidal ideation.
  6. Assessing Protective Factors: Explore the patient’s support systems, coping mechanisms, and personal strengths that can serve as protective factors. Understanding these elements is essential in developing a comprehensive care plan that fosters resilience.
  7. Collaborative Information Gathering: Collaborate with other healthcare professionals, family members, or support networks to gather additional insights into the patient’s current state and the presence of any concerning behaviors.
  8. Reviewing Medication History: Assess the patient’s current and past medication history, including psychotropic medications, to evaluate their impact on mood and potential side effects.
  9. Documentation and Communication: Document the assessment findings accurately and communicate them to the healthcare team. Ensure that relevant information is shared promptly to facilitate collaborative decision-making and intervention planning.
  10. Safety Assessment: Conduct a thorough safety assessment, including an evaluation of the patient’s access to lethal means and the presence of a safety plan. Implement immediate measures to address any identified safety concerns.

This nursing assessment for suicidal ideation forms the foundation for the development of a targeted and individualized care plan aimed at addressing the unique needs of the patient while promoting their safety and mental well-being.

Nursing Diagnosis for Suicidal Ideation:

  1. Psychosocial factors:
    • Previous suicide attempts
    • History of mental health disorders
    • Recent loss or traumatic events
    • Substance abuse
    • Lack of social support
  2. Cognitive factors:
    • Persistent feelings of hopelessness
    • Negative self-perception
    • Poor problem-solving skills
    • Limited coping mechanisms
  3. Environmental factors:
    • Access to lethal means
    • Isolation and lack of a supportive social network
    • Limited access to mental health resources
    • Stigmatization of mental health issues

Defining Characteristics:

  • Verbalization of suicidal thoughts or intent
  • Expressions of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Changes in behavior, mood, or social interactions
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Giving away personal belongings


  1. The patient will verbalize an increased sense of hope and purpose.
  2. The patient will identify and utilize coping mechanisms to manage stressors.
  3. The patient will establish a safety plan to address immediate risks of self-harm.
  4. The patient will engage in ongoing therapeutic interventions to address underlying mental health issues.
  5. Establish a Therapeutic Relationship:
    • Build trust and rapport with the patient to facilitate open communication.
    • Utilize active listening skills to demonstrate empathy and understanding.
  6. Safety Planning:
    • Collaborate with the patient to develop a personalized safety plan, including identifying triggers, coping strategies, and emergency contacts.
    • Restrict access to lethal means.
  7. Therapeutic Communication:
    • Encourage the expression of feelings and thoughts in a non-judgmental environment.
    • Explore the reasons behind the suicidal ideation.
  8. Mental Health Referral:
    • Facilitate a prompt referral to mental health professionals for a comprehensive assessment and ongoing treatment.
  9. Education:
    • Educate the patient and their support network about the nature of suicidal ideation and the importance of seeking help.
    • Provide information on available mental health resources.

Regularly reassess the patient’s mental health status, including changes in suicidal ideation, engagement with the safety plan, and progress towards identified goals. Adjust interventions as needed to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of the patient.

Nursing Interventions for Suicidal Ideation:

  1. Safety Planning:
    • Collaborate with the patient to develop a personalized safety plan, including identifying triggers, coping strategies, and emergency contacts.
    • Discuss and implement safety measures such as removing access to lethal means and promoting a safe environment.
  2. Therapeutic Communication:
    • Establish and maintain an empathetic, non-judgmental, and supportive relationship with the patient.
    • Encourage open expression of feelings and thoughts, providing a safe space for the patient to discuss their suicidal ideation.
  3. Crisis Intervention:
    • Implement crisis intervention techniques to address immediate risks, such as involving a crisis hotline or engaging emergency services if needed.
    • Stay with the patient to ensure constant observation during periods of acute distress.
  4. Psychoeducation:
    • Provide information to the patient and their support system about the nature of suicidal ideation, risk factors, and warning signs.
    • Educate on the importance of seeking professional help and available mental health resources.
  5. Collaboration with Mental Health Professionals:
    • Facilitate a prompt referral to mental health specialists for a comprehensive assessment and ongoing treatment.
    • Ensure effective communication and collaboration between the nursing team and mental health professionals.
  6. Medication Management:
    • Administer prescribed medications as ordered by the healthcare provider.
    • Monitor the patient for medication side effects and effectiveness, reporting any concerns promptly.
  7. Individual and Group Therapy:
    • Engage the patient in individual therapy sessions to explore and address underlying issues contributing to suicidal ideation.
    • Encourage participation in group therapy to foster a sense of support and connection.
  8. Coping Skills Development:
    • Collaborate with the patient to identify and practice coping mechanisms for managing stressors and emotional distress.
    • Provide resources and guidance on relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and healthy coping strategies.
  9. Family and Social Support:
    • Involve the patient’s family and support network in the care plan, educating them about the importance of support and understanding.
    • Facilitate communication and address family dynamics that may contribute to the patient’s distress.
  10. Ongoing Assessment and Monitoring:
    • Regularly assess the patient’s mental health status, suicidal ideation, and response to interventions.
    • Monitor for changes in behavior, mood, and overall well-being.
  11. Follow-Up Care:
    • Schedule and encourage regular follow-up appointments with mental health professionals to monitor progress and adjust treatment plans as necessary.
    • Provide ongoing support and reinforcement of the safety plan.
  12. Documentation:
    • Thoroughly document all assessments, interventions, and the patient’s response to treatment in the medical record, ensuring accurate and comprehensive communication among the healthcare team.

It is essential to tailor these interventions to the individual needs of the patient and collaborate with the interdisciplinary team to ensure a holistic and effective approach to managing suicidal ideation. Regular reassessment and adjustment of the care plan are critical for ongoing support and risk mitigation.


In conclusion, the nursing care plan developed for individuals experiencing suicidal ideation reflects a comprehensive and patient-centered approach aimed at promoting safety, fostering therapeutic interventions, and addressing the underlying factors contributing to distress. The multifaceted nature of suicidal ideation demands a holistic strategy that encompasses risk assessment, crisis intervention, therapeutic communication, collaboration with mental health professionals, and ongoing monitoring.

Throughout the care plan, the emphasis has been on establishing a trusting and empathetic nurse-patient relationship, recognizing the unique needs of each individual, and tailoring interventions accordingly. The integration of evidence-based practices, safety planning, and collaboration with other healthcare providers underscores the commitment to delivering quality care in the context of mental health.

The goals outlined within the care plan, such as enhancing the patient’s sense of hope, identifying coping mechanisms, and engaging in therapeutic interventions, serve as benchmarks for measuring progress and fostering a path towards recovery. Safety remains a paramount concern, as reflected in interventions aimed at minimizing access to lethal means and implementing crisis intervention strategies.

It is imperative to acknowledge that the nursing care plan is a dynamic document, subject to ongoing assessment, reassessment, and modification as the patient’s needs evolve. The collaboration with mental health professionals, timely referrals, and involvement of the patient’s support network reinforce the holistic nature of care, recognizing that addressing suicidal ideation requires a coordinated effort from various healthcare disciplines.

As nurses, our commitment extends beyond crisis intervention to the promotion of mental health, prevention of self-harm, and active contribution to the overall well-being of our patients. By implementing the outlined care plan, we aim to instill a sense of empowerment in individuals facing suicidal ideation, assisting them in navigating their journey towards recovery and resilience. Through ongoing vigilance, compassion, and dedication, we can make meaningful strides in mitigating the risks associated with suicidal ideation and fostering a hopeful and supportive environment for those in need.


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