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Screening and Treating for Suicide Risk in Patients With Depression

  • Authors: Bradley N. Gaynes, MD, MPH
  • CME/CE Released: 12/15/2010
  • Valid for credit through: 12/15/2011, 11:59 PM EST
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Target Audience and Goal Statement

This activity is intended for primary care physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses, and psychiatrists and psychiatry nurses involved in the treatment of patients with depression.

The goal of this activity is to outline the medical and legal responsibilities of physicians treating patients who may be at risk for suicide.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify risk factors associated with suicidality in the primary care population
  2. Incorporate assessment for suicide risk into diagnosis and follow-up of patients with major depressive disorder
  3. Formulate action plans for monitoring or treating patients with thoughts of suicide


As an organization accredited by the ACCME, Medscape, LLC, requires everyone who is in a position to control the content of an education activity to disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest. The ACCME defines "relevant financial relationships" as financial relationships in any amount, occurring within the past 12 months, including financial relationships of a spouse or life partner, that could create a conflict of interest.

Medscape, LLC, encourages Authors to identify investigational products or off-label uses of products regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, at first mention and where appropriate in the content.


  • Bradley N. Gaynes, MD, MPH

    Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina; Associate Chair of Research Training and Education, Chapel Hill, North Carolina


    Disclosure: Bradley N. Gaynes, MD, MPH, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

    Dr. Gaynes does not intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States.

    Dr. Gaynes does not intend to discuss investigational drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.


  • Jane Lowers

    Scientific Director, Medscape LLC


    Disclosure: Jane Lowers has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


  • Lynne K. Schneider, PhD

    Freelance Medical Writer, Flanders, New Jersey


    Disclosure: Lynne K. Schneider, PhD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Nurse Planner

  • Laurie E. Scudder, DNP, NP

    Nurse Planner, Continuing Professional Education Department, Medscape, LLC; Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Allied Health, George Washington University, Washington, DC


    Disclosure: Laurie E. Scudder, DNP, NP, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

CME Reviewer(s)

  • Nafeez Zawahir, MD

    CME Clinical Director, Medscape, LLC


    Disclosure: Nafeez Zawahir, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Accreditation Statements

    For Physicians

  • Medscape, LLC is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

    Medscape, LLC designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ . Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

    Medscape, LLC staff have disclosed that they have no relevant financial relationships.

    Contact This Provider

    For Nurses

  • Medscape, LLC is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

    Awarded 1.0 contact hour(s) of continuing nursing education for RNs and APNs; none of these credits is in the area of pharmacology.

    Accreditation of this program does not imply endorsement by either Medscape, LLC or ANCC.

    Contact This Provider

For questions regarding the content of this activity, contact the accredited provider for this CME/CE activity noted above. For technical assistance, contact [email protected]

Instructions for Participation and Credit

There are no fees for participating in or receiving credit for this online educational activity. For information on applicability and acceptance of continuing education credit for this activity, please consult your professional licensing board.

This activity is designed to be completed within the time designated on the title page; physicians should claim only those credits that reflect the time actually spent in the activity. To successfully earn credit, participants must complete the activity online during the valid credit period that is noted on the title page.

Follow these steps to earn CME/CE credit*:

  1. Read the target audience, learning objectives, and author disclosures.
  2. Study the educational content online or printed out.
  3. Online, choose the best answer to each test question. To receive a certificate, you must receive a passing score as designated at the top of the test. Medscape Education encourages you to complete the Activity Evaluation to provide feedback for future programming.

You may now view or print the certificate from your CME/CE Tracker. You may print the certificate but you cannot alter it. Credits will be tallied in your CME/CE Tracker and archived for 6 years; at any point within this time period you can print out the tally as well as the certificates by accessing "Edit Your Profile" at the top of your Medscape homepage.

*The credit that you receive is based on your user profile.


Screening and Treating for Suicide Risk in Patients With Depression

Authors: Bradley N. Gaynes, MD, MPHFaculty and Disclosures

CME/CE Released: 12/15/2010

Valid for credit through: 12/15/2011, 11:59 PM EST


The following test-and-teach case is an educational activity modeled on the interactive grand rounds approach. The questions within the activity are designed to test your current knowledge. After each question, you will be able to see whether you answered correctly and will then read evidence-based information that supports the most appropriate answer choice. Please note that these questions are designed to challenge you; you will not be penalized for answering the questions incorrectly. At the end of the case, there will be a short post-test assessment based on material covered in the activity.

Editor's note: This activity is part of a set of resources for Diagnosis and Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: Performance Improvement, a Performance Improvement CME initiative on Medscape Education. PI CME offers physicians the opportunity to earn up to 20 AMA PRA Category 1 credits by evaluating their practice in a specific clinical area, identifying opportunities for improvement and implementing change, and measuring the results. The first step is a self-assessment. To learn more about PI CME, click here.

Case 1: Paula

Paula is a 42-year-old wife and mother of 2 preteen children. For the past 8 years, she has worked as a cashier at the local grocery store during the daytime while her children are in school. Paula has developed concerns over time about her ability to get moving in the morning and, after debating with herself for several weeks, makes an appointment with her clinician. During the consultation, she reports being tired all the time and feeling overwhelmed by her life. She thought at first that she might be sick, but it has been almost 2 months since she felt "herself." Paula also reports significant weight loss without dieting or exercise; when she recently put on her "nice outfit" to go out to dinner with her husband, she discovered that she had lost one or more dress sizes since she'd worn the outfit a few months earlier. Additionally, she admits she has trouble sleeping. "Sometimes I wish I would just go to sleep and not wake up," Paula states.

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