Research: Suicide prevention in acute care settings may reduce subsequent attempts

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Recent research has found that brief suicide interventions in acute care settings may reduce future suicide attempts.

In a project led by Stephanie Doupnik, M.D, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers looked at 14 clinical trials of brief suicide prevention interventions. The meta-analysis of the studies looked at how effective the interventions were in acute care settings like hospitals, emergency departments, and urgent care systems. It looked at three main areas of outcome – subsequent suicide attempts, linkage to follow-up care, and depression symptoms at follow-up.

Published in the JAMA Psychiatry, the researchers found that brief suicide prevention interventions saw some reduced subsequent suicide attempts and increased linkage to follow-up care. But the interventions did not find a statistically significant reduction in depression symptoms. The most common component of the interventions, researchers noted, was “promoting connectedness via engagement with health care clinicians and with the patient’s community.”

Future research should focus on identifying and testing strategies for brief suicide prevention interventions, the study authors said. Acute health care settings need systems to identify patients at risk of committing suicide, and that clinical teams in those settings need to have access to mental health professionals with the expertise to provide those interventions. Other research should be done on implementing those interventions in acute care settings outside of traditional healthcare settings, like jails and homeless shelters.

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