Sentinel Event Alert 56: Detecting and treating suicide ideation in all settings
The Joint Commission, 2016
Through this alert, The Joint Commission aims to assist all health care organizations providing both inpatient and outpatient care to better identify and treat individuals with suicide ideation. Clinicians in emergency, primary and behavioral health care settings particularly have a crucial role in detecting suicide ideation and assuring appropriate evaluation. Behavioral health professionals play an additional important role in providing evidence-based treatment and follow-up care. For all clinicians working with patients with suicide ideation, care transitions are very important. Many patients at risk for suicide do not receive outpatient behavioral treatment in a timely fashion following discharge from emergency departments and inpatient psychiatric settings. The risk of suicide is three times as likely (200 percent higher) the first week after discharge from a psychiatric facility and continues to be high especially within the first year and through the first four years after discharge. This alert replaces two previous alerts on suicide (issues 46 and 7). The suggested actions in this alert cover suicide ideation detection, as well as the screening, risk assessment, safety, treatment, discharge, and follow-up care of at-risk individuals. Also included are suggested actions for educating all staff about suicide risk, keeping health care environments safe for individuals at risk for suicide, and documenting their care.