Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Amanda Jensen-Doss

Second Committee Member

Brian D. Doss

Third Committee Member

Daniel S. Messinger

Fourth Committee Member

Howard A. Liddle

Fifth Committee Member

Jill Ehrenreich May


A self-paced online training was created to teach mental health providers how to conduct a high quality, empirically informed suicide risk assessment. The “Tree of Life” training was based on the Decision Tree Model of suicide risk assessment, which is informed by Joiner et al.’s Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (2009). The training was then evaluated through a randomized controlled trial assigning both students and professionals in mental health to either complete the training immediately, or to a waitlist control group. Although participants assigned to train did not have greater improvements in self-efficacy or in attitudes towards computer-based trainings than the control group, the training did have large effects in increasing both their knowledge and their skills in suicide risk assessment (including their ability to rate the severity of individual risk factors for suicide, and to determine overall suicide risk). Potential predictors and moderators of outcomes were examined, but generally failed to predict outcomes or moderate group differences, suggesting that the training was beneficial for a wider range of providers than originally anticipated. Future directions are discussed.


suicide assessment; suicide training; online training; computer training; dissemination; interpersonal theory of suicide