A Simple Emergency Room Intervention Can Help Cut Suicide Risk

July 20, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


New research suggests that a brief emergency department (ED) intervention can help reduce patient suicide risk. Carried out by ED staff, the intervention involves developing a plan to help keep patients safe during a suicidal crisis, and following up with them by phone after discharge. To test its effectiveness, researchers compared patients at Veterans Health Administration hospital EDs who received the intervention with those who received usual care. They found that the Safety Planning Intervention decreased patients’ risk of suicide attempts by 50 percent in the six months after discharge. “The study is incredibly important . . . because it shows brief interventions work,” said Julie Goldstein Grumet, director of SPRC’s Health and Behavioral Health Initiatives. The Safety Planning Intervention can be used in many different health care settings and should be widely adopted, according to Goldstein Grumet. “It is a brief intervention that hospital workers, primary care staff, outpatient behavioral health can all be trained in to utilize.”

Spark Extra! Read the full study.