Year: 2022 Source: Crisis. (2022). 43(4), 299-306. SIEC No: 20220755
Background: In the United Kingdom, suicide risk is assessed in the emergency department (ED) in a face-to-face assessment with psychiatric liaison practitioners. This study aimed to explore patient experiences of psychosocial assessment after presenting with self-harm/suicidality. Method: A total of 28 patients were interviewed within 2 weeks of ED attendance for self-harm/suicidality. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: People described two different experiences. A therapeutic interaction was about the "person" and made people feel their life mattered and instilled hope for the future. This was characterized by: unscripted conversation; warmth promoting disclosure; psychological exploration of feelings; validation of distress; and a coproduced care plan. A formulaic assessment was about the "risk" and made people feel their life did not matter and hopeless about the future. This was characterized by: feeling judged and not worthy of help; a focus on risk and form filling; a trivial treatment plan; and loss of trust in services. Limitations: Our study comprised a single ED and used a non-diverse sample. Conclusion: Psychosocial assessment in the ED impacts on hope for people in crisis. A focus on therapeutic communication that is about the person, as well as the risk, improves patient experience, decreases distress, and instills hope that life is worth living.