Assessment and management of patients at risk for suicide: Synopsis of the 2019 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Defense clinical practice guidelines
Sall, J., Brenner, L., Millikan Bell, A.M., & Colston, M.J.
Description:In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) approved an update to the 2013 joint clinical practice guideline for assessing and managing patients who are at risk for suicide. This guideline provides health care providers with a framework by which to screen for, evaluate, treat, and manage the individual needs and preferences of VA and DoD patients who may be at risk for suicide.
Methods:In January 2018, the VA/DoD Evidence-Based Practice Work Group convened to develop a joint VA/DoD guideline including clinical stakeholders and conforming to the National Academy of Medicine’s tenets for trustworthy clinical practice guidelines. The guideline panel drafted key questions, systematically searched and evaluated the literature through April 2018, created algorithms, and advanced 22 recommendations in accordance with the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) system.
Recommendations:This synopsis, which includes 3 clinical practice algorithms, summarizes the key recommendations of the guideline related to screening and evaluation, risk management and treatment, and other management methods. Risk management and treatment recommendations address both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic approaches for patients with suicidal ideation and behavior. Other management methods address lethal means safety (such as restricting access to firearms, poisons, and medications and installing barriers to prevent jumping from lethal heights) and population health strategies.