Academic Medical Center Visits by Adolescents Preceding Emergency Department Care for Suicidal Ideation or Suicide Attempt.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.acap.2021.05.009


OBJECTIVE: Suicide is a leading cause of death in children and adolescents, and healthcare encounters relating to suicidal ideation (SI) and suicide attempt (SA) are steadily increasing. Studies examining healthcare utilization by adolescents prior to emergency department (ED) evaluation for SI/SA are lacking and may guide risk assessment.

METHODS: We performed a descriptive study of patients 10 to 18 years evaluated for SI/SA in either of our 2 academic, pediatric EDs between January 1 and December 31, 2016. We quantified and characterized healthcare encounters in the year preceding ED evaluation for SI/SA by obtaining data from the electronic health record.

RESULTS: We identified 599 patients with an index ED visit for evaluation of SI/SA. Mean age was 14.1 years (SD 2.0 years); 69.8% female, 61.9% White, 55.4% publicly insured. Fifty-six percent (336/599) had at least one previous encounter within our healthcare system in the year preceding their index ED visit (median 3, maximum 40, IQR: 2, 7), most commonly among Black/African American and Hispanic adolescents. Among all patients we identified 1409 previous encounters, and 55.4% (780/1409) occurred within 6 months of the index ED visit. Sixty-two percent (880/1409) of previous encounters were to an outpatient clinic, primarily nonmental health, subspecialty clinics.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent healthcare encounters in the year preceding ED evaluation for SI/SA occur in a variety of settings. A broad approach to suicide risk screening may improve opportunities for early identification and intervention.

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Acad Pediatr





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MeSH Keywords

Academic Medical Centers; Adolescent; Child; Emergency Service, Hospital; Female; Humans; Male; Risk Factors; Suicidal Ideation; Suicide, Attempted


adolescent suicide; suicidal ideation; suicide attempt; suicide screen

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