Youth Suicide Prevention in Primary Care: A Model Program and Its Impact on Psychiatric Emergency Referrals

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Abstract

Primary care is an emerging setting for suicide prevention efforts. Psychologists can play a valuable role in not only consulting to primary care but also assisting with the management of suicidal youth. This article describes the Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention in Primary Care model. After detailing the model, a brief study is reported whereby the intervention of primary care staff training, screening, and available services on referrals to the emergency department (ED) for evaluation and the rate of psychiatric hospitalization following psychiatric evaluation in the ED for these youth are examined. Results demonstrated a reduction in referrals to the ED in the year after the intervention compared to 3 years preintervention. Implications for mental health professionals working in primary care are discussed.

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