Improving suicide risk screening in the emergency department
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Improving suicide risk screening in the emergency department

Heather Englund Associate professor, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, US

Why you should read this article:
  • To enhance your awareness and understanding of the Columbia-Suicide Severity Risk Scale

  • To learn about a project to improve suicide risk screening in three emergency departments in the US

  • To acknowledge the need to provide nurses with adequate training and tools on suicide risk assessment

Suicide is a significant and increasing public health concern. Research has shown that screening for suicide risk is inconsistent in acute care settings and that a variety of different tools are used for that purpose. The Columbia-Suicide Severity Risk Scale (C-SSRS) has emerged as a validated and recognised suicide risk screening tool. This article describes a quality improvement project designed to improve the screening of patients for suicide risk in a large hospital system in the Midwestern US. As part of the project, 97% of nurses working in the organisation’s emergency departments self-completed a 30-minute interactive learning module on the background, relevance and application of the C-SSRS. The C-SSRS enables nurses to classify the severity of suicide risk, which helps to provide interventions commensurate with patients’ level of risk. Following completion of the module, there was a significant increase in the percentage of patients screened for suicide risk.

Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2024.e2198

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Englund H (2024) Improving suicide risk screening in the emergency department. Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2024.e2198

Published online: 26 March 2024

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