TN 41 (06-13)
DI 11005.080 Field Offices (FOs) Handling Potential Suicidal or Homicidal Threats
A. When you receive a threat of suicide or homicide
Take all threats of suicide or homicide, or signs a person may be a danger to himself or herself or to another seriously. It is critical that you:
Be alert to the potential for violence;
Handle all threats promptly and in a sensitive manner; and
Immediately advise management of the situation.
1. Types of suicidal or homicidal threats
There are two basic suicidal or homicidal situations.
Immediate threat; and
No immediate threat.
a. Immediate threat of suicide or homicide
When you become aware, either by telephone or in person, that an immediate threat of suicide or homicide exists:
Immediately alert management and the appropriate community service or law enforcement authorities; and
Make a referral to the claimant’s primary care provider or contact a representative payee or family member as necessary.
IMPORTANT: Threats of suicide and homicide are exceptions to the Privacy Act, per GN 03316.135A.
b. No immediate threat of suicide or homicide
When dealing with cases where there is no immediate threat of suicide or homicide:
Use your judgment and handle each case on an individual basis.
Make any appropriate referrals to community agencies, which may be able to assist in such situations.
IMPORTANT: If you have any doubts about the seriousness of a threat or believe a person has the potential to become violent, err on the side of caution. Be sure to notify management and the proper authorities (e.g., local police or Federal Protective Service).
2. Field Office (FO) management actions
To ensure the safety of SSA employees, facilities, and visitors, management can enter potentially suicidal or homicidal individuals into the Visitor Intake Process (VIP) High Risk Alert system. For additional instructions for FO managers, see DI 11005.080D in this section.
3. Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR)
If you identify a potential suicidal or homicidal situation during the course of a CDR, you may want to consider deferring the CDR. For details, see DI 13005.020J.
B. How to handle threats of suicide or homicide
Since it is difficult to predict when a person will commit an act of violence, it is important to use the following guidelines.
1. Guidelines on handling threats of suicide or homicide
Show the utmost patience, sensitivity, and consideration in dealing with a potentially suicidal or homicidal person;
Fully explain the appeal process during the initial interview;
Establish a file in the FO to retain information about potentially suicidal or homicidal individuals for reference in threatening situations; and
Consider assigning responsibility for follow-up contacts to specific FO personnel.
NOTE: In addition to these instructions, follow local or Regional guidance on how to handle threats of suicide or homicide.
GN 03101.001, Summary of Administrative Review Process
2. Alert other employees to potential threats of suicide or homicidal behavior
Use the VIP system to alert management and other FO personnel to potential threats of suicide or homicidal behavior in the office. It is important that all staff be aware of threatening or emergency situations.
3. Who to contact in threatening or emergency situations
It may be necessary to contact suicide prevention services or other medical facilities in the event of an emergency. Therefore, maintain an up-to-date file of local referral services, community health centers, or other emergency medical service facilities. In addition, maintain the telephone number for the local police department and, if available, the number to a specialized unit that handles sensitive referrals (e.g., threats of suicide).
REMINDER: The suicide prevention hotline contact number is located on the INFO screen on the mainframe. See MSOM APPTS 001.003.
C. How to document the claims folder
Document all the actions you take to handle the threat of or potential threat of suicide or homicide.
1. Claims folder is in the FO
a. Document the circumstances of the threat and the actions taken
Make documentations on the:
Report of Contact (RPOC) screen in the Modernized Claims System (MCS); or
Report of Contact (DROC) screen in the Modernized Supplemental Security Income Claims System (MSSICS); and
Form SSA-5002 (Report of Contact).
b. Document the circumstances of the threat and the actions taken on an SSA-5002
Document the circumstances of the threat and the actions taken on an SSA-5002;
Add it to the paper folder; and
Send an email or contact by telephone to any components (i.e., Disability Determination Services (DDS) or Office of Hearings Operation (OHO)) that need to be aware of the threat.
c. Retain a copy of the SSA-5002
Retain a copy of the SSA-5002 in a central folder location, e.g., Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRED).
2. Claims folder is elsewhere
a. Call the management of the component (e.g., DDS) possessing the folder
Call and explain in detail the circumstances of the threat to management.
b. Document the RPOC or DROC screen in MCS or MSSICS
Document the RPOC or DROC screen and confirm the telephone contact made and explain the circumstances of the threat.
c. Document the circumstances of the threat and the actions taken on an SSA-5002
If applicable, alert other components (see DI 81010.080).
d. Retain a copy of the SSA-5002
Retain a copy of the SSA-5002 in a central folder location, e.g., NDRED.
D. Crisis instructions for management
When an employee receives a call or visitor in the office involving a threat or other type of emergency, management must take immediate action.
1. Incident report
If an incident occurs at the FO, the manager or officer in charge (OIC) must access the Security Automated Features and Enhancements (SAFE) program to prepare an AIRS (Automated Incident Reporting System) incident report of the situation.
2. Contact Federal Protective Service (FPS)
If anyone makes a threat of violence against SSA staff or property, management must also immediately contact the FPS.
3. Alert in VIP
Depending on the circumstances, management should consider placing a high risk alert on the VIP system and also confer with the Regional Office about the issuance of an alternative service letter. A high risk alert does not change or alter any current local or regional instructions for handling a potentially disruptive individual.
For guidance on what constitutes an entry of “high risk” into the VIP system, see SM 31020.100.
For detailed crisis instructions for managers, see TC 13001.030.