Abstract. Assertive community treatment appears to have limited impact on the risk of suicide in persons with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI). This exploratory prospective study attempts to understand this observation by studying the contribution of suicidality to the occurrence of crisis events in patients with SPMI. Specifically, an observer-rated measure of the need for hospitalization, the Crisis Triage Rating Scale, was completed at baseline, crisis occurrence, and resolution to determine how much the level of suicidality contributed to the deemed level of crisis. Second, observer-ratings of suicidal ideation, the Modified Scale for Suicide Ideation, and psychopathology and suicidality, Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, were measured at baseline, crisis occurrence, and resolution. A self-report measure of distress, the Symptom Distress Scale, was completed at baseline, crisis occurrence, and resolution. Finally, the patients' crisis experiences were recorded qualitatively to compare with quantitative measures of suicidality. Almost 40% of the subjects experienced crisis events and more than a quarter of these events were judged to be severe enough to warrant the need for hospitalization. Our findings suggest that elevation of psychiatric symptoms is a major contributor to the crisis occurrences of individuals with SPMI; although the risk of suicide may have to be conceived as somewhat separate from crisis occurrence.