How Emergency Departments Can Help Prevent Suicide among At-Risk Patients: Five Brief Interventions

This nine-minute video describes the unique role that emergency department (ED) professionals can play in preventing suicide by providing five brief interventions prior to discharge. It provides action steps and tools for implementing the following interventions:

  • Brief Patient Education — Help the patient understand their condition and treatment options and facilitate adherence to the follow-up plan.
  • Safety Planning — Work with the patient to develop a list of coping strategies and resources they can use before or during a suicidal crisis.
  • Lethal Means Counseling — Assess the patient’s access to firearms, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and other lethal means, and discuss ways to limit access until they are no longer suicidal.
  • Rapid Referral — Schedule a follow-up outpatient mental health appointment for the patient that ideally occurs within 24 hours of discharge.
  • Caring Contacts — Follow up with the discharged patient via postcards, letters, e-mail or text messages, or phone calls.

To learn more about each of these interventions, see Caring for Adult Patients with Suicide Risk: A Consensus Guide for Emergency Departments.