The Suicidal Affect-Behavior-Cognition Scale (SABCS)

The Suicide Affect-Behaviour-Cognition scale is a new public domain suicide risk assessment tool that has demonstrated ability to predict future suicidal behaviour. Individuals circle each response and sum up the results, with higher scores indicating greater risk. It’s important to note that no cut-off scores have yet been developed which may limit the utility of this tool.

Harris, K.M., Syu, J., Lello, O.D., Chew, Y.L.E., Willcox, C.H., Ho, R.H.M. (2015) The ABC’s of Suicide Risk Assessment: Applying a Tripartite Approach to Individual Evaluations. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0127442. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127442.

Instructions to test administrators. Present the scale as shown below, but without the item response scores. Administration is ideally done anonymously and in non-threatening environments. Note that time frames, italicized, may be altered. We would like to ask you some personal questions related to killing oneself. Please indicate the response that best applies to you.

  1. Have you ever thought about or attempted to kill yourself?
    1. Never (0)
    2. It was just a brief passing thought (1)
    3. I have had a plan at least once to kill myself but did not try to do it (2)
    4. I have attempted to kill myself, but did not want to die (3)
    5. I have had a plan at least once to kill myself and really wanted to die (4)
    6. I have attempted to kill myself, and really wanted to die (5)
  2. How often have you thought about killing yourself in the past year?
    1. Never = (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) = Very Often
  3. In the past year, have you had an internal debate/argument (in your head) about whether to live or die?
    1. Never = (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) = Frequently
  4. Right now, how much do you wish to live?
    1. Not at All = (5) (4) (3) (2) (1) (0) = Very Much
  5. Right now, how much do you wish to die?
    1. Not at All = (0) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) = Very Much
  6. How likely is it that you will attempt suicide someday?
    1. Not at All = (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) = Very Likely

The authors of this tool also produced the following “risk barometer” to guide suicide risk assessment.

Suicide Risk Barometer

Cite this article as: MacDonald, D.K., (2015), "The Suicidal Affect-Behavior-Cognition Scale (SABCS)," retrieved on December 9, 2022 from

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