An Emergency Department Intervention and Follow-Up to Reduce Suicide Risk in the VA: Acceptability and Effectiveness

Psychiatr Serv. 2016 Jun 1;67(6):680-3. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2016 Feb 1.


Objective: Emergency departments (EDs) are often the primary contact point for suicidal individuals. The post-ED visit period is a high suicide risk time. To address the need for support during this time, a novel intervention was implemented in five Department of Veterans Affairs medical center EDs. The intervention combined the Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) with structured follow-up and monitoring (SFU) by telephone for suicidal individuals who did not require hospitalization. This study assessed the intervention's acceptability and perceived usefulness.

Methods: A selected sample of 100 intervention participants completed a semistructured interview consisting of open-ended questions about the intervention's acceptability, usefulness, and helpfulness. Satisfaction with the SPI and SFU was separately evaluated.

Results: Nearly all participants found the SAFE VET intervention to be acceptable, reporting that it was helpful in preventing further suicidal behavior and fostering treatment engagement.

Conclusions: The SAFE VET intervention showed promise as an ED intervention for suicidal patients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Homeless Persons / psychology
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Telephone / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Veterans / psychology*