• April 13, 2024
 At Risk of Suicide: Information for professionals working within the court system

At Risk of Suicide: Information for professionals working within the court system

The Family Justice Council Working Group, Death by Suicide within Family Proceedings: At Risk of Suicide: Information for professionals working within the court system.

The Family Justice Council Working Group, Death by Suicide within Family Proceedings: Awareness and support, has prepared an information sheet for professionals working in the court system. The document aims to give advice and signposting on what to do if a ‘client’ discloses thoughts of suicide (or harm).

This disclosure can be via phone or email, or in person.

The document reminds the professional to take the statement seriously and then follow the next steps outlined in the document.

This could be calling a manager or peer to discuss, or if you are in a court building when disclosure is made a team leader or duty manager (as HMCTS will decide if the emergency services should be called).

If however you obtain this information via email (or even phone) and you might be unaware of the immediate situation, you should contact 101. As a reminder, you don’t need your client’s consent to ring these services, but you must explain why you chose to do so.

To make your assessment you should follow the low, moderate and high risk categories below, which outlines your duty of care:

  • Low Risk  – some suicidal thoughts & no plan – (signposting will cover your duty of care).
  • Moderate – suicidal thoughts & vague plan – (signposting will cover your duty of care).
  • High – suicidal thoughts, specific plan and/or intent to act on this – call 101 and explain your concern, add signposting information to the email.

If you are contacting 101 – you will need to tell the responder that they must
not divulge any information supplied by HMCTS unless it is essential, as part of
their duty.

For legal professionals, in particular solicitors, care needs to be given to what information can be disclosed to others without the client’s consent. The attached link sets out how this applies if a client has indicated their intention to commit suicide or serious harm.

The document goes on to outline signposting, next steps and also good places to put people in contact with such as mental health charities and support.

“At Risk of Suicide: Information for professionals working within the
court system” here (PDF).

Rebecca Morgan, Editor

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