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A Simple Emergency Room Intervention Can Help Cut Future Suicide Risk

For people who end up in the emergency room after a suicide attempt, safety planning helps them map out coping tools and get help to prevent future attempts.
A simple intervention conducted by hospital emergency department staff can reduce the risk of future suicide attempts, a new study shows. Source: FangXiaNuo

Many people who attempt suicide end up in an emergency room for immediate treatment. But few of those suicide survivors get the follow-up care they need at a time when they are especially likely to attempt suicide again.

Now, a study shows that a simple intervention conducted by staff in emergency departments can reduce the risk of future suicide attempts. The intervention involves creating a safety plan for each patient and following up with phone calls after discharge.

"It reduced the odds of suicidal behavior by half," says Barbara Stanley, a psychologist at Columbia University and the lead author of the study. "That's a phenomenal difference."

The study, , included 1,200 patients at five Veterans Affairs hospitals around the country. The findings offer by suicide across the country.

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