The Nurses’ Global Assessment of Suicide Risk (NGASR)

New! This article has been updated August 9, 2016 to include more information about the scoring and links to useful tools to accompany.

The Nurses’ Global Assessment of Suicide Risk (NGASR) is a tool that nurses can utilize to assess for suicide risk in a clinical, inpatient environment. The tool was originally developed to assist nurses in a UK hospital where suicide risk assessments were originally completed by an intake nurse, without any backup or support to ensure they were done properly.

This DVD series provides videos and vignettes to help you learn suicide and depression assessment and intervention

Suicide risk assessment takes a lot of experience and practice, and the NGASR is one tool that can provide assistance while nurses develop these critical skills.

Indicators of Suicide Risk

The NGASR explored the following indicators. In brackets is the point value if the item is present, which allows you to assess the suicide risk using the score found below.

  • Feelings of hopelessness (3)
  • Recent stressful events (1)
  • Persecutory hallucinations (1)
  • Depression (3)
  • Withdrawal from social interactions (1)
  • Verbalization of suicidal intent (1)
  • Evidence of a specific plan (6)
  • Family history of mental illness or suicide (1)
  • Recent bereavement or relationship breakdown (3)
  • History of psychosis (1)
  • Widow/widower (1)
  • Prior suicide attempt (3)
  • History of socio-economic deprivation (1)
  • History of substance use (1)
  • Terminally ill (1)

It’s important to note that these elements cover the CPR Risk Assessment elements, starting with the verbalization of suicide intent and following on with:

  • Current Plan (Evidence of a specific plan)
  • Previous Exposure to Suicide (family history of mental illness or suicide; recent bereavement; prior suicide attempt)
  • Resources (withdrawal from social interactions)

Each of the variables identified above for the NGASR are assigned a weighting based on the ones most likely to lead to suicide, with five being assigned a score of 3 (for high-risk) and the others being assigned a score of 1.


The following scoring system has been developed by Cutcliffe & Barker (2004):

  • 0-5 – Low Risk, Level Four
  • 6-8 – Intermediate Risk, Level Three
  • 9-11 – High Risk, Level Two
  • 12+ – Very High Risk, Level One

Supervision Levels

These supervision levels from Barker & Buchanan-Barker (2005) and reproduced in the RNAO guide.

  • Level Four: Engagement on a structured daily basis (such as by having nurses available to speak with and providing regular programming)
  • Level Three: Formal engagement at least three times per day – morning, afternoon and evening (such as by having nurses perform suicide assessments and check in with patients)
  • Level Two: Regular support (e.g. approximately every 15 minutes, varying between 10 and 20 minutes) from the nursing team throughout the day or night (This is the most common level of “high risk” or “suicide watch” supervision and can help prevent inpatient suicide)
  • Level One: Constant access to a nurse, or other professional for support (This is for imminent risk situations while a patient is being stabilized, or during transition points such as moving to a higher or lower level of care.)

You can download the NGASR at the RNAO website (see page two.)


Barker, P. & Buchanan-Barker, P. (2005). The Tidal Model: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals. New York, NY: Routledge.

Cutcliffe, J.R., Barker, P. (2004) “The Nurses’ Global Assessment of Suicide Risk (NGSAR): developing a tool for clinical practice.” Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. 11. 393-400

Cite this article as: MacDonald, D.K., (2015), "The Nurses’ Global Assessment of Suicide Risk (NGASR)," retrieved on January 28, 2020 from

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8 thoughts on “The Nurses’ Global Assessment of Suicide Risk (NGASR)

  1. I would like to ask is there any period for NGASR’s questions concerning “history of XXX” ? e.g. history of substance use ~ how long will be counted as history? 1 year? / 10 years? / one episode? / multiple abuse?

    1. Kenneth,

      The BDI-II and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline assessment questions ask about suicide within the previous 2 months and so, in the lack of any guidelines specifying – this is the length I would go with for items involving recency.

      For items involving history, any repeated use should qualify (e.g. multiple uses in the past of a substance will raise someone’s risk) but this is a sketchy area. You can certainly collect information from the client about what effect that substance has on them.


  2. We use the NGASR at the mental health hospital where I work and I have always thought that the variable for substance use “History of alcohol and/or alcohol misuse” didn’t make sense. Shouldn’t it read “History of alcohol use and/or misuse”, or “History of alcohol and/or substance misuse” or “History of drug and/or alcohol misuse” since it doesn’t make sense to say alcohol and/or alcohol, and because drug use is an indicator for suicide risk and isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the assessment?

    Am I misunderstanding the variable as it stands? Shouldn’t drug use be taken into consideration in the variables? Would love to hear others’ thoughts on this.

    1. Linda,

      I found an updated NGASR in a later publication by one of the authors that states “history of alcohol and/or substance misuse”.

      Barker, P. (2009). Psychiatric and mental health nursing: The craft of caring (2nd ed.). London: UK: Edward Arnold.

      P.S. – I am a Doctorate of Nursing Practice student and I am looking to implement the NGASR into an inpatient mental health unit in Dayton, OH, USA. The hospital system is wanting to speak with other mental health units who are using the NGASR. Would anybody feel comfortable sharing the names of facilities that are currently using the NGASR? Thank you in advance.

  3. Dear Dustin,

    Question about prior sucidial attempt: If a patient admitted due to suicide act, should we count regard this suidical action as prior suidical act and put 3 marks on the scale? For your clarification and thanks!

  4. Is evidence of a suicide plan really coded 6? or is it 3? The explanatory note says there are 5 items being scored 3 – without the “evidence of suicide plan” there is only 4. I am wondering if the 6 is a typo

    Also, when ticking off depression are you saying diagnosis of…. or a specific score on the InterRAI DRS?

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