Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation

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Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation

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About Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation

Scale Name

Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation

Author Details

Aaron T. Beck

Translation Availability



The Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation (BSS) is a widely used assessment tool designed to measure the severity of suicidal ideation in individuals. Developed by Aaron T. Beck and his colleagues, the scale has become a standard instrument in both clinical and research settings for evaluating the presence and intensity of suicidal thoughts.

The BSS consists of 21 items, each assessing different aspects of suicidal ideation such as frequency, intensity, and specificity of suicidal thoughts. Individuals are asked to rate the extent to which they have experienced various suicidal thoughts and behaviors over a defined period, typically within the past week. Responses are scored on a scale ranging from 0 to 2 or 0 to 3, with higher scores indicating more severe suicidal ideation.

This assessment tool is structured to provide clinicians with valuable insights into the nature and severity of suicidal ideation experienced by their clients, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding treatment planning and intervention strategies. Additionally, the BSS can be utilized to monitor changes in suicidal ideation over time, allowing clinicians to gauge the effectiveness of interventions and track progress.

Despite its widespread use and effectiveness, it’s important to recognize that the BSS is just one component of a comprehensive suicide risk assessment. Clinicians should always conduct a thorough evaluation of the individual’s mental health history, current symptoms, and contextual factors to accurately assess suicide risk and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Administration, Scoring and Interpretation

  • Introduction and Explanation: The administrator introduces the purpose of the assessment to the individual being evaluated. They explain that the BSS is a tool used to assess the severity of suicidal ideation and emphasize the importance of honesty in responding to the items.
  • Instructions: Clear instructions are provided regarding how to complete the scale. If it’s a self-report questionnaire, the individual is instructed to read each item carefully and provide their response based on their experiences over a specific period, often the past week.
  • Scoring: The BSS consists of 21 items, each rated on a scale from 0 to 2 or 0 to 3, depending on the version being used. The administrator or the individual marks the appropriate response for each item.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality: The administration of the BSS is conducted in a private and confidential setting to encourage openness and honesty in responses. Individuals should feel comfortable disclosing their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or repercussions.

Reliability and Validity

The Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSS) is generally considered a reliable and valid tool for assessing suicidal thoughts in adults. Here’s a breakdown of its strengths:

Reliability: Internal consistency: Studies show good internal consistency, with Cronbach’s alpha coefficients typically exceeding .8, indicating the scale’s items measure a singular concept.


  • Construct validity: The BSS correlates well with other measures of suicidal ideation and depression, supporting its ability to capture the intended construct of suicidal thoughts.
  • Concurrent validity: Scores tend to be higher in individuals with established suicide risk factors, suggesting the scale reflects current suicidal ideation levels.

Available Versions



Esfahani, M., Hashemi, Y., & Alavi, K. (2015). Psychometric assessment of beck scale for suicidal ideation (BSSI) in general population in Tehran. Medical journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran29, 268.

Beck, A. T., Kovacs, M., & Weissman, A. (1979). Scale for Suicide Ideation (SSI) [Database record]. APA PsycTests.

Important Link

Scale File:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the BSS?
A tool to assess suicidal thoughts in adults.

Is it reliable?
Yes, it shows good internal consistency.

Is it valid?
Yes, it correlates with other suicide and depression measures.


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