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Table 7. Suggested Questions for the Assessment of Suicidal Symptoms in People With Cancera

Questions  Assessment 
aAdapted from Roth et al.[6]
Most people with cancer have passing thoughts about suicide such as, “I might do something if it gets bad enough.”Acknowledge normality by opening with a statement recognizing that a discussion does not enhance risk
Have you ever had thoughts like that? Any thoughts of not wanting to live or wishing your illness might hasten your death?Level of risk
Do you have thoughts of suicide? Have you thought about how you would do it? Do you intend to harm yourself?Level of risk
Have you ever been depressed or made a suicide attempt?History
Have you ever been treated for other psychiatric problems or have you been psychiatrically hospitalized before getting diagnosed with cancer?History
Have you had a problem with alcohol or drugs?Substance abuse
Have you lost anyone close to you recently? (Family, friends, others with cancer)Bereavement


  1. Roth AJ, Holland JC: Psychiatric complications in cancer patients. In: Brain MC, Carbone PP, eds.: Current Therapy in Hematology-Oncology. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby-Year Book, Inc., 1995, pp 609-18.