IASP Task Force - Emergency Medicine and Suicidal Behavior
Professor Gregory Luke Larkin
Professor Murad Khan
Associate Professor Annette Beautrais
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:
- To improve research and practice linkages between experts in suicide, psychiatry, and emergency medicine;
- To develop sysytematic reviews of research about suicide prevention and emergency medicine (including screening, surveillance, interventions); to identify gaps in knowledge, to develop a research agenda to address these gaps, and to encourage relevant research;
- To focus on developing research and interventions which are appropriate for both developed and developing countries, and to promote research which can be generalsied from developed to developing countries.
- To identify, collect and collate guidelines for emergency department management of suicidal patients which have been developed in various countries, and examine and report on their content, development and implementation;
- To work collaboratively with emergency physicians and emergency nurses to develop and promote evidence based recommendations for developing and implementing suicide preventtion activities in EDs.
- To assemble a transdiciplinary, international body of experts which can provide authoritative comment on issues regarding emergency medicine and suicidal patients and suicide prevention.
Planned Activities: The above goals will be achieved through the following activities:
- Develop a ‘virtual network’ of individuals and organisations with an interest in suicide and emergency medicine;
- Organise symposia on suicide and emergency medicine at IASP congresses;
- Develop a section on suicide and emergency medicine on the IASP website to increase awareness of IASP members about this issue; and
- Develop a bank of experts to act as an internationally recognised, IASP-supported spokesgroup on issues relating to suicide and emergency medicine;
- Review and report on suicide and emergency medicine research, and encourage international collaborative research on these matters;
- Act as a clearing house for international guidelines on suicide and emergency medicine, and provide summary information on their content and the processes by which they have been developed and implemented;
- Through a modified Delphi process, establish mutually agreed-upon research and practice priorities and produce recommendations for developing and implementing suicide intervention and and prevention strategies within the acute care context.