TUESDAY, July 17, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Use of the Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) plus follow-up phone calls for suicidal patients presenting in the emergency department cuts suicidal behavior and increases the likelihood of outpatient mental health treatment over the next six months, according to a study published online July 11 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Barbara Stanley, Ph.D., from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues assessed whether the SPI administered in nine Veterans Affairs emergency departments with telephone follow-up contact for suicidal patients was associated with reduced suicidal behavior and improved outpatient treatment engagement in the high-risk, six-month period following discharge.

The researchers found that the 1,186 patients in the SPI+ group were less likely to engage in suicidal behavior during the six-month follow-up period (3.03 percent) versus the 454 patients receiving usual care (5.29 percent). Suicidal behaviors were cut nearly in half with SPI+ (odds ratio, 0.56; P = 0.03). Additionally, patients receiving the SPI+ had more than double the odds of attending at least one outpatient mental health visit (odds ratio, 2.06; P < 0.001).

“The Safety Planning Intervention with structured follow-up telephone contact may be an effective brief suicide prevention intervention that can be implemented in emergency departments,” the authors write.

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