School-Based Suicide Risk Assessment: Standardization, Comprehensiveness, and Follow-up Procedures in Colorado

Abstract

Suicide is a major cause of death in American youth. Suicide risk assessment is a promising suicide prevention strategy; however, little is known about school-based suicide risk assessment practices. The purpose of this study was to examine the scope of standardization, comprehensiveness, and follow-up procedures as part of the suicide risk assessment (SRA) process in use among school-based mental health professionals in Colorado. Participants were 72 school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers employed in school districts across the state. Results indicate the reported ability of SRA procedures to identify imminent suicide risk was strong in relation to other aspects of suicide risk. The analysis of SRA alignment with the interpersonal theory of suicide model revealed that SRA procedures currently in place are significantly more helpful at investigating aspects of acquired capability in comparison to thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness. Respondents were significantly less likely to agree with statements about the ability of SRA procedures to support re-entry and follow-up compared with statements about risk identification and treatment decision-making. The results of this survey suggest that school-based mental health professionals need increased support in developing school re-entry and follow-up procedures to monitor suicide risk.

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Correspondence to M. Franci Crepeau-Hobson.

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This study was approved by the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board in 2019. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Davenport, J.R., Crepeau-Hobson, M.F. School-Based Suicide Risk Assessment: Standardization, Comprehensiveness, and Follow-up Procedures in Colorado. Contemp School Psychol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40688-021-00383-4

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Keywords

  • Youth suicide
  • Suicide risk assessment
  • Interpersonal theory of suicide