Suicide Assessment in Psychiatric Emergency Departments

August 12, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

Research suggests that using standardized assessments may improve the ability of mental health clinicians in psychiatric emergency departments to detect recent suicide attempts and thus better understand suicide risk among their patients.

Although there was substantial agreement between clinical and standardized assessments of suicide risk, 18 percent of the patients identified by the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale as having made a suicide attempt in the past week were not identified as such by clinical assessment alone. The authors pointed out that this difference was important given that a history of suicide attempts is an important predictor of future suicide attempts. The authors also suggested that mental health clinicians who rely on clinical judgement alone and do not employ a standardized assessment “are more likely to detect suicide attempts when the lethality of the self-injury behavior is more severe, but may miss more subtle cases.”

Brown, G. K., Currier, G. W., Jager-Hyman, S., & Stanley, B. (2015). Detection and classification of suicidal behavior and nonsuicidal self-injury behavior in emergency departments. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry76(10), 1397–1403.