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Nearly 20 percent of suicidal youths have guns in their home
Date:5/5/2013

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 the Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ), 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."

Of the patients who completed the screening tools, 151 (29 percent) were found to be at risk for suicide, and 17 percent of them 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.

"This study highlights the importance of parents understanding the risks of having guns in their homes," said Dr. Bridge. "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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Contact: Susan Stevens Martin
ssmartin@aap.org
847-434-7131
American Academy of Pediatrics
Source:Eurekalert

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