Continuity of care for suicidal individuals engaged with a variety of health and mental health care systems has become a national priority, and crisis hotlines are increasingly playing a part in the risk management and continuum of care for these individuals. The current study evaluated a national initiative to have crisis centers in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network provide follow-up care to suicidal callers. Data were obtained from 550 callers followed by 41 crisis counselors from 6 centers. Two main data sources provided the information for the current study: a self-report counselor questionnaire on the follow-up activities completed on each clinical follow-up call and a telephone interview with follow-up clients, providing data on their perceptions of the follow-up intervention's effectiveness. The majority of interviewed follow-up clients reported that the intervention stopped them from killing themselves (79.6%) and kept them safe (90.6%). Counselor activities, such as discussing distractors, social contacts to call for help, and reasons for dying, and individual factors, such as baseline suicide risk, were associated with callers' perceptions of the impact of the intervention on their suicide risk. Our findings provide evidence that follow-up calls to suicidal individuals can reduce the perceived risk of future suicidal behavior.
© 2017 The American Association of Suicidology.