Publication: “First steps towards an alternative suicide risk screening tool”

Carly Forster and Rina Taub have published this interesting article: “First steps towards an alternative suicide risk screening tool: Navigating risk assessment and encouraging life-sustaining conversations”. It can be found here.

Abstract: This paper explores preferred ways of working in relation to suicide screening in situations where this is a requirement of professional practice. We describe our concerns about how approaches to ‘suicide risk assessment’ were affecting our work and the young people we were required to assess. We came to see the assessment process as an intervention of itself, with the potential for negative consequences for young people, workers and the therapeutic relationship. In response, we drew on a narrative and post-structuralist framework to develop an alternative set of assessment questions. Our questionnaire is intended to scaffold conversations that externalise the problem, elicit people’s life-sustaining practices, and enable assessment of distress and suicidal thoughts. The questionnaire has so far been trialled by a young person and psychologist in Sydney, and an adult and mental health worker in Singapore. We present our findings about these insiders’ experiences of the questionnaire. We hope this article will invite readers to connect to curiosity about ways of having conversations that open up space for people to speak of despair, and questions about living, in ways that are respectful and encouraging of life-sustaining steps.

Key words: assessment, questionnaires, risk, suicide, externalising, narrative therapy,
youth, young people

On the authors:

Carly Forster completed her Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) in 2004. After travelling, teaching English, and volunteering for the United Nations abroad, Carly completed her psychologist supervision registration program in 2011. During her internship, Carly worked with Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and with homeless and disadvantaged youth. Carly is currently working with children and young people in out-of-home care. Carly can be contacted at

Rina Taub is a narrative counselling psychologist. She has engaged in narrative practices with young people, adults, couples and families in community settings, as well as in her private practice, In-Sight Narrative Therapy, and as a registered clinical supervisor. She enjoys the curious and respectful stance of narrative therapy, and enjoys sharing the intentions that inform this framework, and the craft of the questions, through facilitating reflective practice groups and workshops for various health and welfare agencies. Rina is currently the convener of the Narrative Theory and Practice in Psychology interest group of the Australian Psychological Society and is involved in shining some light on the narrative paradigm and encouraging research and training opportunities. Rina would like to acknowledge Gaye Stockell as her ongoing mentor. Rina can be contacted at

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