Course Title: Assess and respond to individuals at risk of suicide

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2014

Course Code: HWSS6008C

Course Title: Assess and respond to individuals at risk of suicide

School: 365T Global, Urban & Social Studies

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6124 - Advanced Diploma of Justice

Course Contact : Irene Pagliarella, Program Manager

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4581

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Melissa Brown

Nominal Hours: 80

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

Successful completion of, or demonstrated equivalence to, the following units of competency:

VU20868 Apply foundation legal principles
VU20869 Work within the criminal justice system
VU20870 Apply writing and presentation skills within a justice environment
VU20871 Support the management of adult offenders within the Victorian correctional framework
PSPOHS401B Implement workplace safety procedures and programs
PSPETHC401A Uphold and support the values and principles of public service

And ONE of the following electives:

CHCAOD402B Work effectively in the alcohol and other drugs sector
LGACOM406A Investigate alleged breaches of legislation and prepare documentation

Course Description

In this course you will develop the skills and knowledge required to provide sensitive and effective intervention where risk of self-harm or suicide has been identified.
The focus is on identifying and managing immediate suicide risk in the context of a supportive helping relationship that seeks to work collaboratively with the person at risk to achieve safe outcomes.
Safe outcomes in this context include a clear safety plan for addressing any immediate danger to the person at risk or others, mobilising access to emergency medical help when needed and facilitating links with further care. This course relates to managing imminent risk in ways which provide opportunity for more comprehensive assessment and the provision of further help.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

CHCCS521B Assess and respond to individuals at risk of suicide


1.Identify and assess the person's current suicide risk

Performance Criteria:

1.1Recognise and respond to signs, (such as statements, reactions, thoughts, feelings or behaviours) indicating that a person may be considering suicide

1.2Attend to any hunches, while listening as a helper, perhaps from indirect communications, that suggest the client may be considering suicide

1.3Ask directly about thoughts of suicide whenever there are grounds for concern

If suicide thoughts are present:
1.4Seek sufficient understanding of why the person is considering suicide, and what links them to life, to inform and facilitate the intervention

1.5Assess current suicide risk guided by risk assessment considerations outlined in the Range Statement and by whether there is an imminent threat to the person’s safety or the safety of others

1.6Follow steps outlined in elements 2, 3 and 4.

If the person indicates she/he is not thinking of suicide and no suicidal intent, plans, or behaviour are evident:
1.7Work collaboratively with the person to provide support and facilitate access to further care as needed - guided by elements 3 and 4

1.8Remain vigilant about any emerging indications of suicidality, prompting careful risk assessment and safe management as outlined in elements 1 and 2


2.Work actively with the person to reduce the immediate risk of suicide and increase safety

Performance Criteria:

2.1Build a collaborative empathic relationship with person at risk that acknowledges how thoughts of suicide and the pain behind them may affect their safety

2.2Listen to what lies behind any thoughts of suicide while affirming and strengthening links to safety and living implicit in the helping relationship

2.3Work with person at risk to develop and follow through on a safety plan that reduces immediate danger of self-harm, risk of suicidal behaviour and/or suicide and mobilises access to emergency medical help when needed

2.4Manage intervention in ways that address and reduce any risk of harm to caregivers and others potentially at risk in the situation and remain mindful of circumstances where the police may need to be involved to address safety

2.5Seek and act on advice from workplace supervisor to ensure action taken is lawful, complies with good suicide intervention practice and organisation policies consistent with that practice, ethical processes and duty of care obligations

2.6Address work health and safety (WHS) obligations in relation to managing self and others

2.7Refer to health professionals where appropriate


3.Facilitate and strengthen the individual's links to further care

Performance Criteria:

Having worked with the person to take any steps needed to address immediate safety:

3.1Encourage and enable capacity of person at risk and/or in crisis to make informed choices about further help that deals with their suicidality and associated needs for ongoing care

3.2Acknowledge how the current helping relationship has provided foundations for further care

3.3Explore and seek to understand and address any barriers to seeking or accepting help

3.4Develop, with the individual, a plan and agreed first steps, to access and utilise informal supports and professional help


4.Provide further intervention support to resource the individual beyond immediate crisis

Performance Criteria:

When or if it is assessed that there is no imminent risk that needs to be immediately addressed:

4.1Maintain open rapport with individual to encourage discussion of on-going concerns related to their situation generally and any suicide risk - focusing on what most needs attention now

4.2Affirm person's decision to seek and accept help to keep safe and address their concerns

4.3Review how and with whom they might seek help in future to keep safe and/or get support

4.4Support individual to develop coping strategies (both internal and external) which prepare them to safely manage any recurrence of suicidal thoughts

4.5Identify mental health concerns or personal circumstances (such as depression, trauma, substance misuse or significant losses) that need addressing and facilitate access to appropriate help

4.6Ensure supports and coping strategies developed are documented and communicated as necessary to other members of work team

4.7Comply with all laws, relevant ethical guidelines and policy requirements that affect duty of care

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course, you will be able to:

- Provide evidence of specified essential knowledge and skills in:
•Identify common indicators or signs of potential suicide risk, including risk of any type of self-harm
• Demonstrate competent skills in communication, counselling and the principles of crisis intervention, including relevant laws, ethical guidelines and policy requirements that support good care and duty of care
•Practice suicide intervention including risk assessment, the development of safety plans and facilitate on-going support via assistance and informed referrals to other agencies
• Facilitate emergency interventions
• Demonstrate awareness of personal values, beliefs and attitudes which may facilitate or impede crisis care and suicide intervention
•Examine common notions about suicide and sound suicide intervention practice in the light of available evidence
• Demonstrate awareness of how other mental health issues may impact upon intervention
•Commit to attend to the pain of the person at risk and work towards safe, life sustaining outcomes
•Practice the principles of self-monitoring, self care and support-seeking relevant to involvement in crisis and suicide intervention work


Details of Learning Activities

You will participate in a variety of learning activities. They include the following:

In class activities:
•Role plays
•Class discussions
•Group work
•Oral and written questioning

Out of class activities:
•Case studies
•Role plays
• Written questioning and reflections
•Audio/visual presentations

Teaching Schedule

Week One: Introduction to the subject; attitudes & values, myths & terminology

Week Two: Counselling skills review

Week Three: Crisis indicators, risk factors vs protective factors, mental health

Week Four: No class-out of class activity TBC

Week Five: Cues & behaviours; cultural awareness; prevention/ risk assessment models

Week Six: Minimising risk of harm; development of action plan and safety plans

Week Seven: Self harm; role of referral

Week Eight: Legal, ethical and organisational frameworks

Week Nine: No class- students are to participate in R U Ok Day on campus- further instructions will be provided

Week Ten: Working with children and adolescents; understanding trauma

Week Eleven: Euthanasia, terrorism, deaths in custody

Week Twelve: No class- CSI Camp

Week Thirteen: Managing stress, self care, vicarious trauma

Week Fourteen: No class- out of class activity TBC

Week Fifteen: Summative role plays

Week Sixteen: Summative role plays

Week Seventeen: Summative role plays; subject review and preparation for exam

Week Eighteen: Exam

*The teaching schedule outlined above is subject to change depending on your assimilation of knowledge and skills of the subject matter, and on changes to legislation as well as unforeseen circumstances.

Attendance in this VET Justice Course is to help you develop a self-directed, professional attitude and to maximize your educational vocational opportunities and practical skills. Regular class attendance provides fundamental educational value and offers the most effective means for you to gain knowledge and skills of the concepts of the justice environment. Lack of regular attendance and participation may compromise your performance in the course and achieving the final outcome.

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

There is no prescribed text for this course. All required readings and case studies will be available either:
•Via My RMIT/Studies Blackboard
•Handed out in class as a hard copy
•Via the internet/assigned website
•Accessible via the RMIT Library


Other Resources

Overview of Assessment

Assessments may incorporate a variety of methods including role plays, observations, lectures, tutorials, class discussion, reports, group/individual training workshops, and audio-visual presentations.

Assessment Tasks

All assessment tasks are based on the requirements of the performance criteria, range statements and the assessment guidelines of the course.

•Journal/ portfolio of handouts, resourced material, worksheets and case scenario ’solutions’ (Formative assessment 1). Submission in Week 9
•Participation in R U Ok Day on campus, and attendance and participation in simulations/ role plays at the CSI Camp (Formative assessment 2). Submission of R U Ok Day certificate of attendance, or written verification by Student Services of attendance, will need to be sighted and recorded prior to Week 17.
•Role play and written reflection piece of a simulated case scenario (Summative assessment 1 (graded) will constitute total 60% of the final grade; role play is worth 40%, and written reflection piece is worth 20%). This assessment task identifies with the required skills necessary to assess a person’s suicide risk and act on upon the appropriate steps to prevent and refer relevant to the situation. Furthermore, the required reflection on practice and recommendations for improved outcomes will be explored.
•Written exam (Summative assessment 2 (graded) will constitute 40% of the final grade). This assessment comprises written questioning on the legislative frameworks and ethical guidelines related to working with persons at risk of suicide and self-harm. As well, the exam will consist of case scenarios, and students will be requied to write a safety plan relevant to one of the case scenarios.

Comprehensive assessment outlines will be issued and discussed with students in class/and or through Blackboard prior to Week 2 of the course.

Assessment Matrix

The assessments have been designed to cover all Learning Outcomes and will be graded in accordance with RMIT’s Mark Table which is as follows:

CHD=Competent with High Distinction
CDI=Competent with Distinction
CC=Competent with Credit
CAG=Competency Achieved - Graded
NYC=Not Yet Competent
DNS=Did not Submit for Assessment

Grades which apply to course delivered in accordance with competency-based assessment (not-graded)

CA=Competency Achieved
NYC=Not Yet Competent
DNS=Did Not Submit For Assessment

Other Information

All written work must adhere to the following criteria:
1. Written reports, research projects or essays are to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and familiarity with the prescribed or negotiated topics
2. It is expected that all submitted work will be well written, with clear and consistent grammar, expression and punctuation. It must be well structured and cogently address the issues raised in the chosen topic in a logical, ordered and organised manner
3. The concepts must be well defined and demonstrate a critical analysis of the chosen topic
4. Written submissions must demonstrate appropriate preparation, reading and research
5. In-text references must follow the APA style of referencing. In addition, you must provide a bibliography with correct and comprehensive details in relation to texts, articles, research reports and other sources that you have used
6. Double or 1.5 spacing and a font size of 10-12 must be used in either Arial or Times Roman. Do not submit double paged assessments.

In accordance with RMIT policy, you may apply for an extension where there have been unexpected or extenuating circumstances, e.g.
• Hospital admission, serious injury, severe asthma, severe anxiety or depression. This does not include minor illness such as a cold, period pain or hay fever.
• Loss or bereavement – e.g. death of a close family member, family/relationship breakdown.
• Hardship/trauma – e.g. victim of crime, sudden loss of income or employment, severe disruption to domestic arrangements.
You must keep a copy of their assessment until the graded submission has been returned or marks have been posted.

All email communications will be sent to your RMIT student email address.

Applying for an Extension
Extension of time for assessment tasks may be granted where circumstances beyond your control prevent submission by the published due date. An application for extension of time must be lodged with your tutor or the course coordinator as early as possible, and no later than one working day before the due date for submission.
You can apply for extension using the University’s Extension Application Form – – or by emailing your course coordinator or tutor directly.
An extension of up to seven calendar days may be granted if good reason can be demonstrated. Include supporting evidence (such as medical certificates) with your application.
Extensions beyond seven calendar days cannot be granted by course coordinators, tutors or the School. To apply for an extension of time greater than seven calendar days you must lodge an application for Special Consideration.

Applying for Special Consideration
If you are seeking an extension of more than seven calendar days (from the original due date) you must lodge an Application for Special Consideration form, preferably prior to, but no later than two working days after the official due date. Late applications will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances. For information about Special Consideration and how to apply, see:

Penalties for Late Submission
If you have not been granted an extension or special consideration, late submission will be penalised as follows:
Assessment tasks submitted after the due date of submission shall receive a penalty of five per cent of the grades available for that assessment per day for each working day late.
No assessment task shall be accepted more than three weeks after the due date.

Assessment Appeals
If you believe your assessment result or final result is wrong please contact the course coordinator and provide the reason why you think your result is incorrect. Valid reasons for seeking a review of results include:
• You believe an error has occurred in the calculation of the grade; or,

• You believe the assessment did not comply with criteria published in the Course Guide; or,

• You believe the assessment did not comply with University Policies on Assessment (i.e. an error in process has occurred).

• Full details of the procedure (including appeals procedure) can be located at this RMIT site:

Academic Integrity
Academic integrity means honesty and responsibility in scholarship through respecting the work of others whilst having the freedom to build new insights, new knowledge and ideas. RMIT University upholds the values of academic integrity as fundamental to the scholarship undertaken by all members of its community. Whenever you refer to another person’s research or ideas (either by directly quoting or paraphrasing them) you must acknowledge your source.
If you are even in doubt about how to properly cite a reference, consult your lecturer or the academic integrity website:
The RMIT library provides tools to assist with your referencing

Plagiarism and Collusion
Plagiarism and collusion constitute extremely serious academic misconduct, and are forms of cheating. You are reminded that cheating, whether by fabrication, falsification of data, or plagiarism, is an offence subject to University disciplinary procedures. Plagiarism is the presentation of the work, idea or creation of another person as though it is your own. It is a form of cheating and is a very serious academic offence that may lead to expulsion from the University. Plagiarised material can be drawn from, and presented in, written, graphic and visual form, including electronic data, and oral presentations. Plagiarism occurs when the origin of the material used is not appropriately cited. Plagiarism is not acceptable.
Examples of plagiarism include:
• Copying sentences or paragraphs word-for-word from one or more sources, whether published or unpublished, which could include but is not limited to books, journals, reports, theses, websites, conference papers, course notes, etc. without proper citation;
• Closely paraphrasing sentences, paragraphs, ideas or themes without proper citation;
• Piecing together text from one or more sources and adding only linking sentences;
• Copying or submitting whole or parts of computer files without acknowledging their source;
• Copying designs or works of art and submitting them as your original work;
• Copying a whole or any part of another student’s work; and
• Submitting work as your own that someone else has done for you.
• Enabling Plagiarism: the act of assisting or allowing another person to plagiarise or to copy your own work is also an offence.
For further information, please see the RMIT Plagiarism Policy –;ID=sg4yfqzod48g1 – and the RMIT Student Discipline Statute and Regulations -;ID=11jgnnjgg70y

Plagiarism Software
The originality verification software Turnitin may be used in this course. For details, see:

Course Overview: Access Course Overview