One thing most clients are at least vaguely familiar with when they first consult with a lawyer is the fact that an attorney-client relationship and privilege is created, meaning that whatever the client talks about in front of the attorney will go no further. Many clients do not know the full extent of this privilege, including when it begins and ends, but they are at least aware of the fact that the privilege exists.
Sometimes lawyer’s have an ethical obligation to have to break the client’s confidence. If, for example, after meeting with and retaining a particular lawyer, the client calls her and advises her of his plans to commit suicide. The lawyer is not left with the decision of whether she has an ethical duty to disclose this fact. There have been many ethical discussions about this topic, but the general consensus is that if a client has threatened bodily harm against himself, the lawyer has an ethical duty to disclose that information.