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Suicide Risk Assessment in the Emergency Department: An Investigation of Current Practice in Scotland

McClatchey, Kirstie; Murray, Jennifer; Chouliara, Zo�; Rowat, Anne; Hauge, Samantha R.


Kirstie McClatchey

Zo� Chouliara

Anne Rowat

Samantha R. Hauge


Suicide is a global public health issue. Approximately one third of individuals who complete suicide have attended an emergency department in the year preceding their death. The aim of this study was to investigate current suicide risk assessment practices across emergency department clinicians in Scotland.
A mixed‐methods design was employed. A total of 112 surveys for emergency department clinicians were posted to 23 emergency departments in Scotland between March and September 2016. Follow‐up semi‐structured interviews were also conducted exploring clinician's experiences of suicide risk assessment. Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.
Fifty‐one emergency department clinicians across 17 emergency departments completed the survey. Thirty‐five (68.6%) participants were currently using a suicide risk assessment tool; with most using locally developed tools and proformas (n = 20, 62.5%) or the SAD PERSONS scale (n = 13, 40.6%). Remaining participants (n = 16, 31.4%) did not use suicide risk assessment tools during assessment. Variation in practice was found both across and within emergency departments. Six clinicians participated in follow‐up interviews, which identified four major themes: Clinician Experiences of Suicide Risk Assessment; Components of Suicide Risk Assessment; Clinical Decision‐Making; and Supporting Clinicians.
There is substantial variation in current practice, with around two‐thirds of clinicians using a variety of empirically and locally developed tools, and a third using their judgement alone. Clinicians find suicide risk assessment a challenging part of their role and discuss the need for increased training, and appropriate and helpful guidelines to improve practice

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 11, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 12, 2019
Publication Date Apr 29, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 19, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 13, 2020
Journal International Journal of Clinical Practice
Print ISSN 1368-5031
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 73
Issue 4
Article Number e13342
Keywords Emergency Department, suicide, clinical assessment, risk assessment,
Public URL
Contract Date Mar 20, 2019


Suicide Risk Assessment in the Emergency Department: An Investigation of Current Practice in Scotland (235 Kb)

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