What is the research about?
Half of people who die from suicide have contact with a hospital or health system within a month of their death. In this study, the research team is comparing two ways that clinicians can help prevent suicide. The first way is safety planning. In safety planning, clinicians help patients create action plans to use if they have suicidal thoughts. The second way is safety planning with follow-up support from a suicide prevention hotline.
Who can this research help?
Results may help health systems when considering approaches to prevent suicide.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is assigning 8 emergency departments, or EDs, and 22 primary care clinics by chance to provide either safety planning or safety planning with follow-up support. The EDs and clinics are part of a health system in Idaho. The team is recruiting 1,460 adults and adolescents who report having low, moderate, or high risk for suicide to take part in the study.
In safety planning, patients and their healthcare providers work together to spot warning signs of suicide. They also work to identify
- Coping strategies
- People and social settings that can be used for support and distraction
- Professional help
- Access to anything a patient may use to harm themselves
In safety planning plus follow-up support, support from a suicide prevention hotline includes at least one phone call from a suicide prevention specialist within 24 hours of discharge. Patients also receive 25 supportive text messages over the course of a year.
The research team is following up with patients 6 and 12 months after they enroll in the study to see if they have suicidal thoughts or behaviors. The team is also asking patients about their quality of life and looking to see if they go back to the ED or clinic for care related to suicide or use outpatient mental health services.
The research team is comparing these outcomes between the safety planning and safety planning plus follow-up support groups. The team also wants to see if outcomes differ for adolescents compared with adults. Finally, the team is asking study participants and clinicians how well safety planning or safety planning plus follow-up works for them.
Patients who have attempted suicide or who are close to someone who has died from suicide are giving input on the study. Healthcare providers, suicide prevention hotline specialists, and mental health providers are also helping to develop and carry out the study.
Research methods at a glance
Other Health Services Interventions
Training and Education Interventions