Suicide Risk Screenings Can Save Lives



Suicide was the 12th leading cause of death in the United States in 2020.

The overall U.S. suicide rate grew 33% from 1999 to 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC reports even higher increases among certain racial and ethnic groups: American Indian and Alaska Native women (139%) and men (71%), Black women (65%), White women (68%) and men (40%), and Hispanic women (37%). Other people at greater risk of suicide include veterans, people who identify as LGBTQ, youth and young adults, and disaster survivors.


According to a recent study, about half of people who died by suicide over the 10-year period examined had seen a health care professional at least once in the month before their death. Additional research suggests that, if they were screened for suicide risk by those providers, many might have received care and survived. Indeed, a 2017 study of eight emergency departments across seven states found 30% fewer suicide attempts among patients who were screened and received evidence-based care compared with patients who were not screened. Another study that looked at veterans affairs hospitals found that patients who were screened and then received clinical interventions were half as likely to experience suicidal behavior and more than twice as likely to attend mental health treatment compared with those who received usual care.

Author(s): Kristen Mizzi Angelone

Publication Date: 25 Jan 2022

Publication Site: Pew