Teen Suicide Risk Screening Tool for ER Use In Development


Those with an interest in the mental health field might not have heard of ED-STARS since it is still being developed.

ED-STARS, or Emergency Department Screen for Teens at Risk for Suicide, may soon help save the lives of youth seriously contemplating suicide.

The project is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Their researchers are working on algorithms that predict which adolescents are at highest risk for suicide. They plan on using the data to create a brief, personalized screening tool where each question asked is based on the individual’s previous responses.

Once the computerized screening tool is developed and validated, it will be distributed to emergency departments in the U.S. as a “patient-friendly tool” for screening, risk identification, and treatment planning.

ED-STARS may prove invaluable since suicide is the second leading cause of death among 12 to 17 year olds. In a survey done in 2013, eight percent of high school respondents reported making a suicide attempt during the past year, and 13.6 percent had a plan in mind for how to end their life. Emergency departments are prime environments for suicide prevention measures.

To gather data for the project, fourteen geographically diverse emergency departments serving a variety of social populations are involved in the screening of 6,000 youths. The investigators will follow-up on a subgroup scoring low for suicide risk factors, and a subgroup of participants who scored high. The reported experiences of these individuals over a six-month period will provide the data for creating a computerized screening questionnaire.

A second study will be run to validate ED-STARS ability to assess for suicide risk after comparing initial results with the predictive value of a standardized adolescent suicide screening tool.

“We’re excited about the promise of what ED-STARS can deliver,” said Amy Goldstein, Ph.D., of NIMH. “It will provide ED clinicians nationwide with an easy-to-administer screening instrument that classifies youth as high, moderate or low-risk, enabling efficient triaging of resources and identification of modifiable risk factors for treatment—a tool that can save lives.”

Source: NIMH
Photo credit: Carissa Rogers / flickr


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