Introduction: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with firearms reported as the cause of death in up to 50% of these cases. Our goal was to evaluate the feasibility of the Counseling on Access to Lethal Means intervention in the Emergency Department (CALM-ED) by non-physician personnel.
Methods: We conducted this single-center, prospective, quality improvement study (QI) in an urban, academic ED with over 90,000 annual patient visits. The study looked at adult patients who were discharged after presenting to the ED with suicidal crisis. Assessment of access to lethal means was conducted at the bedside, followed by a counseling session regarding safe storage of lethal means and follow-up via telephone call 48-72 hours after ED discharge. We collected data on patient's sociodemographics, psychiatric history, access to lethal means, lethal means storage methods, the patient's specific plans for lethal means storage after discharge, and post-discharge follow-up care.
Results: Of 215 eligible patients, 166 voluntarily agreed to participate in CALM-ED, of whom 84 (51%) reported access to lethal means. Following the intervention, 75% of patients described a specific storage plan for their lethal means. Patients with and without access to firearms were equally likely to participate in the follow-up telephone call.
Conclusion: An ED-based CALM QI intervention is feasible for implementation by non-physician personnel and is well received by patients and families. This intervention has the potential to help saves lives at times of suicide crisis.