Recognizing Suicide Lethality (RSL) Scale

The Recognizing Suicide Lethality (RSL) scale, also called the “Thirteen Questions on Successful Suicide” is used to identify whether a person who may be exposed to suicidal individuals (such as a physician, social worker, minister, or educator) can recognize the signs of suicide.

The questions in the RSL are based off the factors identified in the Suicide Potential Rating Scale (Holmes and Howard, 1980), and both that study and the RSL were created by Cooper Holmes and Michael Howard.

The RSL contains 13 items, each with four possible answers. Each correct answer nets one point. A suggested answer key is below:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 1
  5. 2
  6. 3
  7. 3
  8. 1
  9. 2
  10. 2
  11. 1
  12. 2
  13. 4

Tool and Related Links

Recognizing Suicide Lethality (RSL) – page 71 (64) of Christine Royal’s 2003 MA thesis.


Holmes, C.B., Howard, M.E., 1980. Recognition of suicide lethality factors by physicians, mental health professionals, ministers, and college students. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48(3), pp. 383-387.

Royal, C. (2003) “Knowledge of Suicide Intervention Skills: Do Crisis Line Volunteers and Clergy Differ?” MA Thesis. Trinity Western University. Accessed at on January 26, 2015.


Cite this article as: MacDonald, D.K., (2015), "Recognizing Suicide Lethality (RSL) Scale," retrieved on December 9, 2022 from

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