QUOTE OF THE MONTH:

# 27 May 2002

"Dance is the most ephemeral of arts. It is inscribed on air, not on paper, canvas, or stone. Except when captured by a movie or video camera, a work lasts no longer than the performance. . . . To the dancer, the end of a perfect line of movement marks the end of a beauty never to be precisely recaptured. The beauty of dance lies in part in this poignancy - an existence so fleeting that it seems, paradoxically, to transcend time."


Yi-Fu Tuan, Geographer and Writer
from "Passing Strange and Wonderful


(continues below)

mental health professional trainings
primary care professional trainings
psychological assessment supervision and consultations
Shawn Christopher Shea
links and recommended readings

INTERVIEWING TIP OF THE MONTH

# 27 May 2002

Malingering or True Suicidal Intent?

TISA Description of the Problem: There are various arenas in which a client may malinger suicidal intent, as when trying to get admission into a hospital to avoid a court appearance or secondary to homelessness. Malingered suicidal intent can pose a problem in prison assessments. At times an inmate may, for very good reasons, want to be admitted to the infirmary under the guise of being suicidal. For instance, such a situation may arise if the inmate is trying to avoid an impending assault in their current location. In the following very practical tip from Robert Houle, a question is described that may be used to help us to unravel whether or not voiced suicidal ideation is being feigned or represents "the real thing".

Tip: It is not uncommon for me to encounter a situation in which it is not clear whether or not an inmate is malingering suicidal ideation, because he or she needs "to escape" a bad situation. I have found the following question to be helpful at these times:

Clinician: If one thing could change, or happen, that would make you not suicidal, what would it be?

TISA Follow-up: The above question is deceptively direct, but decidedly effective. It is its directness that probably creates a sense of safety for the client with the interviewer. This sense of safety paves the way for a frank discussion about what is really "going down".

Tip provided by:

Robert Houle
State of Michigan, Department of Corrections
Ionia, Michigan