On location Staff training course description

Suicidality (ideation, behavior, or both) continues to represent a major public health problem in the U.S. and is disturbingly common.  Assessing suicidality in the emergency department (ED), school districts, and primary care offices, and others is a complex and challenging task.  Evidence about the value of available ED risk assessments is not encouraging.  Attempts to develop models that predict violence have in part been unsuccessful from the fact that ideation is common, the value of depression hard to determine, and non-evidenced based assessments notoriously treacherous.  Led by Russell Copelan, MD, this half-day workshop will help clinicians from various disciplines understand the multifaceted and perplexing task of assessing suicidality.  As well as reviewing suicide diagnostic categories, attendees will learn how to identify the alarming subgroup of nonideation suicidality as a potential consequence of acute adjustment disorder and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor adverse reactions.

Course description

The course will be divided into research and practical sessions.  Standards of care and core competencies will be studied.  Attendees will learn how to assess suicidal patients who present life-threatening emergencies utilizing systematic assessment.  Key specific risk factors, beyond general ideation and depression, will be reviewed, for example, the influence of suicide phenotypes and early historical and late clinical factors.  The evidence-based ACUTE©, VISTA©, and ACTA© assessments, empirically tested for reliability and validity, will be presented as additions to, rather than substitutes for, clinical assessment and judgment.  Additional objectives for attendees include defining nonideation suicidality (NIS), differentiating NIS from deliberate self-harm (DSH), identifying neuropsychological features and performing neurologic tests signaling acute danger, and maintaining high indices of suspicion in unconventional cases.

Course materials

The course will utilize the ACUTE©, VISTA©, and ACTA© practice manuals and rating forms, PowerPoint® presentations, video clips, small group discussion, and neurologic test practice sessions. Attendees will receive a certificate to administer ACUTE©, ACTA©, and VISTA©.


An online training course is also available. The tutorial takes 30 -45 minutes to complete with a short quiz immediately following.  Once passed, you will receive a printable certificate qualifying you to administer ACUTE©, ACTA© and VISTA©.  Please call or send an email from our Contact Us page and ask for the link. We will be happy to email it to you.  Purchase is necessary to receive 1 free training.  If you wish to just do the training, there is a $44.99 charge.  This fee will be credited back if a purchase is made within 30 days following the training.

Tutor profile

Russell Copelan, MD graduated from Stanford University, UCLA Medical School, University of California, Irvine, Department of Psychiatry, and fellowship in movement disorders at the University Of Colorado School of Medicine. He is the author of the ACUTE©, VISTA©, and ACTA© emergency assessments. He has published in scientific peer-reviewed literatures, including The American Journal of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics in Review. His research has been presented world-wide.    

Training: Online or on location

Emergency Medical Evaluation of Dangerousness

Sample training slides

eMed International Inc®

Suicidal and Homicidal Assessments

training recommendation

To ensure optimal outcomes in the assessment of suicidality, ED and school district mental health providers should be trained in eMed International™ assessments in accordance with assessment goals.


Psychiatric emergencies relate to safety and training to ensure optimal outcomes. The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals Organization (JCAHO) has developed standards for reducing the risk of suicide which are applicable to EDs. These standards are relevant to clinician assessment, maintenance of safety in the environment, training of staff, and provision of transitional care when at-risk patients are maintained in the ED. In addition, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has developed guidelines that address diagnosis and management of psychiatric patients in the ED during an initial assessment. Those patients with histories suggesting acute or exacerbated medical illness who have abnormal vital signs and abnormal physical examination findings must be cleared of medical illness during their evaluation in the ED. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Practice Guidelines for the Assessment and Treatment of Patients with Suicide Behaviors, all health providers performing psychiatric evaluations in the ED should be trained in an intensive and tested assessment strategy.


"...the immediate need for tools like yours to be widely disseminated and implemented is overwhelming."

Jarrod Hindman, MS, Suicide Prevention Unit Manager, Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

"I congratulate you on the work you're doing, and hope you continue to find answers for things we don't yet understand."

Sue Klebold, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 

"Dr. Copelan's work in the area of assessing youth violence has been of great interest.  It is reassuring to know that an expert on this is in our midst."

Jill Martin, EdD, Principal, Doherty High School, Colorado Springs, Colorado