Patients can arrive in an emergency department (ED) for suicide assessment via a number of different routes. Some come in on their own or are brought in voluntarily. Others are brought against their will on behalf of concerned providers, friends, family, or police.
Once a patient has arrived, the duty of ED clinicians is to understand the potential for suicide and to formulate a plan to help mitigate risk. A busy ED triage is not the place for exhaustive psychiatric histories and assessments; however, triage nurses or other clinicians can quickly determine whether a patient needs a more thorough assessment. Screening assessments tend to be shorter and simpler than more exhaustive clinical assessments and generally have high sensitivity.