Screening To Identify Youth at Risk for Suicide


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports the suicide rate among adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 24 has risen in recent years, increasing by nearly 50 percent between 2007 and 2017. Universal screening presents an opportunity to identify those at risk for suicide and intervene.

A recent article describes a three-tiered screening process to help implement universal suicide risk screening in pediatric health settings. Researchers from the National Institute for Mental Health coauthored the article in collaboration with university researchers across the country. This process uses a quick set of four yes/no questions to conduct an initial screening, which is followed by a Brief Suicide Safety Assessment (BSSA) to determine if a full risk assessment is needed. The screening questions, BSSA Guide, and other resources are available to help organizations implement the model in the Ask Suicide-Screening Questions Toolkit. This resource includes information sheets, provider scripts, educational videos, and patient resources organized for use in emergency departments, inpatient medical/surgical units, and outpatient primary care/specialty clinics. Toolkit resources are available in 13 languages.