School-based suicide risk assessment using eHealth for youth: Systematic scoping review
Exner-Cortens, D., Baker, E., Gray, S., Conde,, C.F., Rivera, R.R., van Bavel, M., ... Arnold, P.D.
Objective: This study aims to conduct a rapid, systematic scoping review to explore promising practices for conducting school-based suicide risk assessment among youth via eHealth (ie, information technologies that allow for remote communication).
Methods: This review included peer-reviewed articles and gray literature published in English between 2000 and 2020. Although we did not find studies that specifically explored promising practices for school-based suicide risk assessment among youth via eHealth platforms, we found 12 peer-reviewed articles and 23 gray literature documents that contained relevant information addressing our broader study purpose; thus, these 35 sources were included in this review.
Results: We identified five key recommendation themes for school-based suicide risk assessment among youth via eHealth platforms in the 12 peer-reviewed studies. These included accessibility, consent procedures, session logistics, safety planning, and internet privacy. Specific recommendation themes from the 23 gray literature documents substantially overlapped with and enhanced three of the themes identified in the peer-reviewed literature—consent procedures, session logistics, and safety planning. In addition, based on findings from the gray literature, we expanded the accessibility theme to a broader theme termed youth engagement, which included information on accessibility and building rapport, establishing a therapeutic space, and helping youth prepare for remote sessions. Finally, a new theme was identified in the gray literature findings, specifically concerning school mental health professional boundaries. A second key difference between the gray and peer-reviewed literature was the former’s focus on issues of equity and access and how technology can reinforce existing inequalities.
Conclusions: For school mental health providers in need of guidance, we believe that these six recommendation themes (ie, youth engagement, school mental health professional boundaries, consent procedures, session logistics, safety planning, and internet privacy) represent the most promising directions for school-based suicide risk assessment among youth using eHealth tools. However, suicide risk assessment among youth via eHealth platforms in school settings represents a critical research gap. On the basis of the findings of this review, we provide specific recommendations for future research, including the need to focus on the needs of diverse youth.