PCORI has identified suicide prevention among youth ages 15-24 as an important research topic. Suicide rates in the United States have increased over the past two decades, especially for youth. Patients, caregivers, clinicians, and others want to learn: How do different brief interventions compare for preventing immediate risk of suicide and helping youth access longer-term mental health treatment? To help answer this question, PCORI launched an initiative in 2020 on Suicide Prevention: Brief Interventions for Youth. The initiative funded this research project and others.
This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Suicide is a leading cause of death among teens and young adults. Young people with suicidal thoughts or behavior may go to the emergency room, or ER, for help. But questions remain about the best way to reduce suicide risk among young people after they leave the ER.
In this study, the research team is comparing two prevention programs for young people who go to the ER with suicidal thoughts:
- SAFETY-A. Young people and their caregivers receive the SAFETY-A program from ER staff while they are still in the ER. The program includes one crisis therapy session focused on increasing the young person’s safety. This session lasts between 20 and 60 minutes. Young people learn how to manage unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, find safe settings, and create safety plans. Safety plans help young people identify warning signs of suicide and find ways to stay safe and get help.
- SAFETY-A with CLASP. Young people in this program receive the same services as those in the SAFETY-A program. In addition, they receive the CLASP program, which is designed to improve safety and help patients enter treatment. It includes follow-up sessions with a CLASP guide after patients leave the ER. These sessions focus on finding resources to prevent suicide. Sessions also help young people solve problems, feel more hopeful, and build a support network.
The research team is looking to see how well each program reduces future suicide attempts and improves outcomes for young people after they leave the ER.
Who can this research help?
Results may help doctors and therapists when considering ways to treat young people who go to the ER with suicidal thoughts or behavior.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is enrolling 1,516 people ages 15–24 who go to the ER with suicidal thoughts or behavior. The ERs are in California, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Utah. The team is assigning people by chance to receive SAFETY-A or SAFETY-A with CLASP.
The research team is monitoring suicide attempts and the receipt of mental health treatment at the start of the study and 3, 6, and 12 months later. The team is also looking to see how well the programs work based on people’s race, gender, and level of suicide risk.
Young people who have had suicidal thoughts or behavior and their caregivers, doctors, and therapists are helping to plan and conduct this study.
Research methods at a glance
|Randomized controlled trial
|1,516 people ages 15–24 who go to the ER with suicidal ideation or behavior in California, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Utah
Primary: suicide attempts and mental health treatment initiation
Secondary: overall self-harm, including suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-harm, and treatment engagement
|1-year follow-up for primary outcomes