Suicide or No-Harm Contract
I, _______________ agree not to kill myself, harm myself, or attempt to
kill myself for the time period beginning now _________ until ___________.
I agree to come to my next appointment on _________ at ______ with _________________________.
I agree to get rid of things that I have thought about using to kill myself….
I agree to call the crisis numbers on the crisis card given to me today by _______________ should I have the urge to kill or harm myself…
I realize that this contract is part of my therapy contract with my counselor at ____________….
Signature of Client Signature of Counselor
Date and Time
The above is just one example of a “no-harm” contract. Contracts have been a commonly used intervention when working with suicidal clients. Basically, the counselor attempts to engage the client in a “pact” to not attempt suicide. Obviously, the use of contracts is controversial, with some experts explicitly advocating against their use. The center of the controversy is that there is very little research evidence that supports their use.
**Contracts are not a guarantee against suicidal behavior, nor do they necessarily provide protection against suicidal claims (Westefeld, Range, Rogers, Maples, Bromley & Alcorn, 2000). **
If a counselor chooses to use a contract, it continues to be important to keep the client involved in the decision-making process, as such it may be more appropriate to develop the contract with the client rather than simply entering the information on a standard form. In this way, the development of the contract can be facilitative in itself. It is important to remember that a suicide contract relies heavily on the client’s truthfulness, and should not be used if the counselor believes the client would say anything to keep the counselor from preventing the client from a further attempt.
Important components of the contract include: specific time frame for which it is in effect, specifies a delay in attempts to harm self, specific information on what to do (and who to contact) in case of ideation or the urge to harm self, an agreement to dispose of and/or surrender means, times/dates scheduled for next appointment or check-in times, and contingences for violations of terms of the contract.