Continuity of Care for Suicide Prevention: The Role of Emergency Departments

The goal of this paper is to highlight key steps emergency department (ED) providers can take to establish continuity of care for patients at risk for suicide, and thereby, to substantially reduce the number of suicide deaths and suicide attempts that occur after discharge. The risk of suicide attempts and death is highest within the first 30 days after a person is discharged from an ED or inpatient psychiatric unit, yet as many as 70 percent of suicide attempt patients of all ages never attend their first outpatient appointment. Therefore, access to clinical interventions and continuity of care after discharge is critical for preventing suicide.