Emergency Department Screen for Teens at Risk for Suicide (ED-STARS), a recently-launched study in a network of hospital emergency departments (EDs) across the country, will develop and test a personalized, computer-based suicide risk screening tool for teenagers. The study plans to refine algorithms capable of predicting which youth are most likely to attempt suicide. They will use these to develop a brief and personalized screening tool in which each question presented to a teen is based on the individual’s previous responses. After it’s validated, this screen will be made available to emergency departments nationwide as an ED- and patient-friendly tool for screening, risk stratification and triage.
ED-STARS involves a collaboration between researchers and the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN), and the Whiteriver PHS Indian Hospital. The 14 participating emergency departments serve geographically and socially diverse populations, including American Indian youth, who are at particularly high risk for suicide. In the project’s first study, over 6,000 youth will be screened, and SRO telephone interviewers will follow up on a subsample of 12-17 year-olds who score high on suicide risk factors – as well as those who score low. Their experiences over a 6-month period will be used to develop a computerized adaptive screen (CAS) for predicting suicide attempts that adjusts its line of questioning depending on responses to previous questions. This project builds on SRO’s extensive experience administering mental health-related survey items. A stringent protocol of both parental consent and triage with mental health professionals will be followed during the data collection period.