Background: Suicide is a leading cause of death in adolescents and adults in the US. Follow-up support delivered when patients return home after an emergency department (ED) or primary care encounter can significantly reduce suicidal ideation and attempts. Two follow-up models to augment usual care including the Safety Planning Intervention have high efficacy: Instrumental Support Calls (ISC) and Caring Contacts (CC) two-way text messages, but they have never been compared to assess which works best. This protocol for the Suicide Prevention Among Recipients of Care (SPARC) Trial aims to determine which model is most effective for adolescents and adults with suicide risk.
Methods: The SPARC Trial is a pragmatic randomized controlled trial comparing the effectiveness of ISC versus CC. The sample includes 720 adolescents (12-17 years) and 790 adults (18+ years) who screen positive for suicide risk during an ED or primary care encounter. All participants receive usual care and are randomized 1:1 to ISC or CC. The state suicide hotline delivers both follow-up interventions. The trial is single-masked, with participants unaware of the alternative treatment, and is stratified by adolescents/adults. The primary outcome is suicidal ideation and behavior, measured using the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) screener at 6 months. Secondary outcomes include C-SSRS at 12 months, and loneliness, return to crisis care for suicidality, and utilization of outpatient mental health services at 6 and 12 months.
Discussion: Directly comparing ISC and CC will determine which follow-up intervention is most effective for suicide prevention in adolescents and adults.