Susan De Luca
Susan De Luca

Assistant professor Susan De Luca was selected to a national panel of suicide prevention experts to create a guide for all U.S. emergency departments working with adults presenting with a suicide attempt.

The guide, Caring for adult patients with suicide risk: A consensus guide for emergency departments (pdf), which was funded by SAMHSA, has just been released by the Suicide Prevention Research Center.

Dr. De Luca answered a few questions about the guide.

1. Who should use this guide?

The guide was written for health care professionals including physicians, nurses, mental health specialists, and other practitioners who provide clinical care in emergency departments (EDs). ED providers are often the initial and sole providers administering care for suicide survivors. According to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, ED-based interventions could reduce annual deaths by suicide by as much as 20 percent.

2. What is the guide for?

The guide provides information about decision support, brief interventions, and discharge planning with adult patients who who meet specific risk factors for suicidal behaviors. The guide can also help answer the following three questions:

  • Can this patient be discharged or is further evaluation needed?
  • How can I intervene while this patient is in the emergency department?
  • What will make this patient safer after leaving the emergency department?
3. What are some of the resources the guide offers?

The guide includes Decision Support Tool that that our panel developed over the 2013-2014 project period. This is a screening instrument to help providers make decisions about the care and discharge of adult patients with suicidal risk. The tool indicates which patients may need an evaluation from a mental health specialist, and whether their health and safety needs may be met outside of the emergency department following a brief suicide prevention intervention.

The guide also offers a menu of emergency department-based brief suicide prevention interventions. These interventions can help decrease suicide risk, help patients manage suicide-related symptoms after discharge, and promote continued engagement with treatment.