Current Psychiatry Reports

, 18:100 | Cite as

Emergency Department Screening for Suicide and Mental Health Risk

  • Kalina Babeva
  • Jennifer L. Hughes
  • Joan Asarnow
Child and Adolescent Disorders (TD Benton, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Adolescent Disorders


Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10–24. An estimated 1.5 million US adolescents receive their primary health care in the emergency department (ED); this is particularly true for low-income and minority youths who often lack a regular source of care. ED visits can provide a window of opportunity to screen and identify youths with suicide and mental health risk, triage youths based on need, and facilitate effective follow-up care. Recently developed brief therapeutic assessment approaches have demonstrated success in improving rates of follow-up care after discharge from the ED. Furthermore, there is some data supporting clinical benefits when youths receive evidence-based outpatient follow-up care. ED screening combined with effective follow-up, therefore, may provide one strategy for improving mental health and reducing health disparities in our nation. This paper reviews the context in which ED screenings occur, available tools and strategies, and evidence for the effectiveness of tested approaches.


Child and adolescent Suicide risk Mental health risk Emergency department Assessment 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Kalina Babeva declares no conflict of interest.

Jennifer L. Hughes declares grants from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Joan Asarnow declares grants from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Institute of Mental Health, and the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Division/APA Relations. Dr. Asarnow also receives funding from the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, APA Division 53.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kalina Babeva
    • 1
  • Jennifer L. Hughes
    • 2
  • Joan Asarnow
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human BehaviorUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Center for Depression Research and Clinical CareUT Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human BehaviorUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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