Comprehensive Screening for Suicide Risk in Primary Care


      Suicide is a major public health problem and a complex clinical challenge. Assessment and early identification could be enhanced with screening tools that look beyond depression. The purpose of this study was to identify profiles of risk behaviors and social stress associated with suicidal ideation and behavior using the Behavioral Health Screen.


      The study used screening data from 2,513 primary care patients (aged 14–24 years). Data were collected between 2008 and 2012, and were analyzed in 2016.


      Latent class analysis identified a high and low risk profile. Domains of primary influence included substance use, sexual assault, same-sex behavior, and unsafe sex. The high-risk group was 11 times more likely to have made a suicide attempt, five times more likely to report a history of suicidal ideation and behavior, and three times more likely to report recent suicidal ideation and behavior.


      Risk behaviors and social stress contribute to the risk for suicide above and beyond depression and should be assessed during routine primary care visits with adolescents. The Behavioral Health Screen can screen all these domains and thus assist primary care providers in assessing for both psychiatric and social stress factors associated with youth suicide.
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