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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

t/Pediatric Psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health. “According to our data, when asked their opinion, nearly all of the kids in our study were in favor of suicide screening in the ED. Our study shows that if you ask kids directly about suicide, they will tell you what they are thinking.”

Study participants included 524 patients ages 10 to 21 who were seen for medical, surgical, or psychiatric complaints at one of three pediatric EDs. They were asked to fill out a 17-item questionnaire that the researchers used to develop ASQ (Ask Suicide-Screening Questions), a four-question screening tool that can be used for all pediatric patients visiting the ED. The ASQ has been validated against a longer more in-depth suicide assessment tool.

“While many youths who kill themselves have mental health disorders, up to 40 percent of youths who kill themselves have no known mental illness,” said co- author and youth suicide expert, Jeffrey A. Bridge, PhD, Principal Investigator at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University. “Therefore, it is important to screen all children and adolescents for suicide, regardless of the reason they are visiting the ED. This study also highlights the importance of parents understanding the risks of having guns in their homes. Being at risk for suicide and having access to firearms is a volatile mix. These conversations need to take place in the ED with families of children at risk for suicide.”

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The research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institutes of Health (Drs. Horowitz & Pao); institutional research funds from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and grant K01 MH-69948 from
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