Suicide and violence prevention: parent education in the emergency department

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 Mar;38(3):250-5. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199903000-00010.


Objective: To determine prospectively whether parental receipt of injury prevention education is associated with new action limiting access to lethal means and if so, what action was taken for which means.

Method: Prospective follow-up of 103 adults whose children made an emergency department visit for mental health assessment or treatment. Record review assessed whether hospital staff provided injury prevention education. Logistic regression was used to determine the likelihood of new caretaker action limiting access to the following potentially lethal means: firearms, alcohol, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications.

Results: Significant associations were found between exposure to injury prevention education and action to limit access (adjusted odds ratio = 3.6, 95% confidence interval = 1.1-12.1, p = .04). Five of 8 adults whose households contained firearms took new action to limit access after injury prevention education, whereas none of the 7 firearm-owning families who did not receive injury prevention education took new action to limit firearm access. Similar patterns were seen for other means. Adults more often chose to lock up rather than dispose of lethal means.

Conclusions: Injury prevention education should be provided to parents during child/adolescent emergency department mental health-related visits. Potential for violence prevention is real because parents do take new action to limit access to lethal means when means restriction education is provided.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Parents / education*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Violence / psychology
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology