Detecting suicide risk in adolescents and adults in an emergency department: a pilot study

J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2006 Mar;44(3):22-9. doi: 10.3928/02793695-20060301-08.


The investigators conducted a pilot study to detect suicide risk in adolescents and adults seeking treatment in an emergency department, as well as to test the reliability and validity of the 4-item Risk of Suicide Questionnaire (RSQ). This study expanded the implementation of the RSQ beyond its initial use with children and adolescents with psychiatric symptoms who were seeking treatment in a pediatric emergency department to include adolescent and adult patients in a Level I trauma center. An advanced practice psychiatric nurse verbally administered the RSQ to a convenience sample of 104 emergency department patients ages 12 to 82. Psychometric analysis demonstrated an adequate degree of reliability and criterion-related validity for the RSQ. Approximately 30% of all patients who participated screened positive for suicide risk. The results support the continued use of the 4-item RSQ with all adolescents and use of a reduced 2-item form of the RSQ with adults exhibiting psychiatric chief complaints to determine imminent risk of suicide in patients who seek treatment in the emergency department. Nurses in all health care settings need to initiate suicide screening and implement nursing interventions directed toward suicide prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / nursing
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / nursing*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Nursing Assessment* / statistics & numerical data
  • Nursing Diagnosis* / statistics & numerical data
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires