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Children and Teens in Emergency Departments Who Are at Risk for Suicide: Nearly 20% Have Access to Guns
Date:5/7/2013

Washington, DC (PRWEB) May 07, 2013

Nearly one in five children and teens found to be at risk for suicide by emergency department care teams report that there are guns in their homes. This is according to a study presented yesterday by Stephen Teach, MD, MPH, FAAP, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC. Dr. Teach is the Associate Chief of Emergency Medicine at Children's National Medical Center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24 years in the United States. Nearly half of youths who die by suicide use a firearm.

Dr. Teach was part of a team of emergency room physician/researchers who created a suicide risk screening tool for healthcare professionals in emergency departments (EDs) to figure out which youths need further mental health evaluation to keep them from harming themselves. As part of the research to develop that tool, researchers asked youths about access to guns in or around their home and about gun/bullet storage.

“For more than 1.5 million adolescents, the ED is their primary point of contact with the healthcare system, which makes the ED an important place for identifying youth at risk for suicide,” said Dr. Teach.

Of the patients who completed the emergency department screening tool in this study, almost 30 percent were found to be at risk for suicide, and almost 20 percent of those at risk, reported guns in or around the home. Of those at risk for suicide and reporting guns in the home, 31 percent knew how to access the guns, 31 percent knew how to access the bullets, and 15 percent knew how to access both the guns and the bullets.

Many clinicians and parents do not know how to ask youth about suicide, so they require screening tools to assist in detection, said study senior author Lisa M. Horowitz, PhD, MPH, Staff Scientis
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