How Emergency Departments Can Help Prevent Suicide among At-Risk Patients: Five Brief Interventions

Date: 2017
(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)
Patient and healthcare professional in emergency department


Type:  Video/Audio Recording
Author:  Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Publisher:  Education Development Center, Inc.

This nine-minute video describes the unique role that emergency department (ED) professionals can play in preventing suicide by providing five brief interventions prior to discharge. It outlines the following interventions and provides tools to support their implementation:

  • Brief Patient Education: Help the patient understand their condition and treatment options and facilitate adherence to the follow-up plan. For more information, see page 9 of the ED Guide.
  • Safety Planning: Work with the patient to develop a list of coping strategies and resources that they can use before or during a suicidal crisis. See page 10 of the ED Guide.
  • Lethal Means Counseling: Assess the patient’s access to firearms, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and other lethal means and discuss ways to limit access until they are no longer suicidal. See page 12 of the ED Guide.
  • Rapid Referral: Schedule a follow-up outpatient mental health appointment for the patient that ideally occurs within 24 hours of discharge. See page 13 of the ED Guide.
  • Caring Contacts: Follow up with the discharged patient via postcards, letters, e-mail or text messages, or phone calls. See page 14 of the ED Guide.

To learn more about preventing suicide in ED patients, access the full and quick versions of our consensus guide and take our online course.

Settings:  Health Care, Emergency Departments
Strategies:  Effective Care/Treatment, Treatment, Safety Planning, Care Transitions/Linkages, Reduce Access to Means