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IASP Task Force - Emergency Medicine and Suicidal Behavior

Chair

Professor Gregory Luke Larkin

Gregory Luke Larkin

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Co-Chairs

Professor Murad Khan

Murad Khan

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Associate Professor Annette Beautrais

Annette Beautrais

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This Task Force is chaired by Professor Gregory Luke Larkin (emergency physician), with Co-Chairs Professor Murad Khan (a psychiatrist with a specific interest in emergency medicine in developing countries), and Associate Professor Annette Beautrais (a suicide researcher who works and conducts research in the ED context).

Persons interested in joining this Task Force can contact the Chair or co-Chair directly.


There is emerging interest in Emergency Departments (EDs) as sites for suicide prevention. In the developed world, the majority of life-threatening and medically severe suicides attempts are treated in general EDs. In fact, EDs are also the first to see the less medically severe attempts and those who present with suicidal ideation. In addition, a significant fraction of those who present to EDs for non-mental health reasons have occult or frank depression (estimated at approximately 30%) and/or occult suicidality (estimated at 8-12%). The closure of psychiatric inpatient facilities, reductions in inpatient beds, moves to treat people in the community and increased costs of and decreased access to general practitioner visits have all coincided with, and likely contributed to, increased attendances to EDs by psychiatric and suicidal patients who would previously have been admitted or seen in other settings. The ED is now the default option for urgent and acute contact for suicidal patients within many health systems.

While suicidologists are paying increasing attention to EDs as sites for screening and intervention, traditionally, suicide prevention has not been a focus for emergency physicians and other ED staff. For these reasons, there is a need a need for improved collaboration between experts in emergency medicine, psychiatry, and suicide prevention. This IASP Task Force on Suicide and Emergency Medicine addresses this challenge.

Goals: This Task Force has the following goals:

Planned Activities: The above goals will be achieved through the following activities: