Objectives: We evaluated the feasibility of a population-based approach to preventing adolescent suicide.
Methods: A total of 1323 students in 10 high schools completed the Suicide Risk Screen. Screening results, student follow-up, staff feedback, and school responses were assessed.
Results: Overall, 29% of the participants were rated as at risk of suicide. As a result of this overwhelming percentage, school staffs chose to discontinue the screening after 2 semesters. In further analyses, about half of the students identified were deemed at high risk on the basis of high levels of depression, suicidal ideation, or suicidal behavior. Priority rankings evidenced good construct validity on correlates such as drug use, hopelessness, and perceived family support.
Conclusions: A simpler, more specific screening instrument than the Suicide Risk Screen would identify approximately 11% of urban high school youths for assessment, offering high school officials an important opportunity to identify young people at the greatest levels of need and to target scarce health resources. Our experiences from this study show that lack of feasibility testing greatly contributes to the gap between science and practice.